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PAC theater due for upgrades

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The auditorium and stage area of the Performing Arts Center at ENMU-R needs some safety upgrades. In this July 2018 photo, some people look at information presented in the lobby of the building. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

ENMU-R plans for safety renovations

The Performing Arts Center at Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell will undergo some safety renovations soon.

The building on the campus of the community college is the venue for many large campus and community events such as graduation ceremonies, public speeches and theatrical productions.

During December 2019 commencement ceremonies, former chancellor Jeff Elwell, whose background includes directing academic theater departments, noticed some potential problems.

“He was looking at our rigging and said we needed to have this inspected, so we did,” Powell said. “The point (the consultant) made is there was nothing outlandish or that is a total safety concern that we need to shut down now. However, there are a few things you’ll want to do.”

The work that needs to be completed, according to a Request for Proposals prepared by the school, includes improving the rigging used to hold up the auditorium speakers, replacing or improving other parts of the stage rigging, replacing the wood handrails on either side of the auditorium, and installing a manual release for the roof vent at the level of the stage floor. The stage roof vent is intended to be used to release smoke if needed.

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The changes are not considered major, according to Tony Major, vice president for Business Affairs, so it is not expected that ENMU-R will be required to do significant work to meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act or updated building codes.

The school is negotiating with A.K. Sales and Consulting Inc. of Roswell, which will work with a Texas subcontractor that specializes in theater projects, administrators said.

The improvements are expected to cost somewhere between $275,000 and $300,000. ENMU-R intends to use its reserve funds, which exceed $16 million, to cover the costs.

The work is expected to be completed by the spring.

“Based on current campus states, we are not expecting to have any campus events, which will allow us to get this work done,” Major said.

Due to the COVID-19 situation and state public health orders, the Performing Arts Center is not being used for large events.

ENMU-R also has two other major building projects expected to move forward, possibly in November.

It has signed a construction-manager-at-risk contract with Bradbury Stamm of Albuquerque for the renovation of its automotive technology and welding building on University Boulevard and for construction of a new building for its physical plant department on West Mathis Street. A CMAR contract means that the construction manager guarantees the costs of the projects, unless ENMU-R itself asks for changes.

The college received general obligation bond money from the state for the automotive and welding project and will use its reserve funds for the physical plant facility, which will replace World War II-era Quonset huts. The combined costs for those projects are about $11 million.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.