The Commander’s Room in the Veterans and Friends building is getting renovations, including new visual and audio technology. These changes come thanks to a Rotary Club grant, private donations and two community members volunteering their time.

The 1960’s gold and red shag carpet on the walls will be removed. The ceilings will be lowered two feet. Two 70-inch mounted flat screen televisions will be installed. Two cordless microphones and four mounted speakers are being purchased. Eight dimmable LED light fixtures will be put in. And the floor is getting refinished.

Tom Parker and Larry Eberspacher took it upon themselves to push this project farther than just new audio and visual technology.

“Tom and Larry just kind of took ahold of [the project] and went with it,” Parker’s sister, Paula Valenta, said.

The renovations rely upon donations, not the grant money.

“All the expenditures so far have been funded by private donations,” Parker said.

The American Legion Auxiliary wanted to get new audio and visual equipment a few years ago, but it wasn’t until the $3,000 Rotary grant this spring allowed for the purchase.

Every year the Crete Rotary Club has access to grant money from Rotary International, which is based in Chicago. Rotary International put in $1,500 for the grant. The other half was matched by the Crete Rotary Club.

Rotary grant money has been used in the past to create footbridges at the Crete Youth Cabin, rebuild the concession stand and bleachers at the t-ball fields and work on the community garden.

 “Once we realized that we were going to get the grant money, it became clear that the carpeting on the wall needed to go,” Valenta said.

One of the biggest drawbacks of the Commander’s Room is that people couldn’t hear very well, Parker said.

It was partly because of the carpet lining the walls absorbing the sound.

Drywall was put up over the concrete walls with wood furrings behind to allow space for hiding wires for the televisions and sound systems. The walls will be painted to complete the project.

This project will not only make the room look better, Parker said, but save money as well.

“By lowering the ceiling two feet we will save 2,500 cubic feet of space that doesn’t have to be heated,” Parker said.  “So it’s actually going to save money.”

The new ceiling tiles are bright white, acoustic, mold and stain proof as well as washable.

There are 10 light fixtures in place now, but they will be replaced with eight dimmable LED light fixtures. This will use less than half of the power that the current lights use, decreasing electricity usage in the building.

In Parker’s experience, when the room is used, the stage is in the way.

The initial suggestion was to remove the stage. If a stage was needed, a portable one could be rented. Parker came up with a fold-up stage model to present to those involved in making the decisions. This 8-foot by 8-foot fold up stage would allow for stage use, but stores itself when more space is needed.

Parker also wants to do floor repairs, time permitting. He found matching flooring in the basement that would be used to replace some of the current flooring. Once that is finished, money permitting, he wants to sand the floor and refinish it all.

A pickup and trailer load of carpet panels went to the G and P Landfill in Milford. The charge to dump was waived which saved money for other parts of the renovations.

The Commander’s Room is rented by the community for class reunions, banquets and meetings. With the renovations, Parker hopes more people will use this facility and create more business for Crete Veterans and Friends.

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