Renovations moving along for planetarium’s new location at CHS

| November 7, 2017

Room 412 in Coshocton High School is a sea of scaffolding right now, but that is just part of the process of turning it into the new location for the district’s planetarium. Josie Sellers | Beacon

A giant red box was added on to the roof of Coshocton High School to accommodate the planetarium that will be installed in room 412. Josie Sellers | Beacon

COSHOCTON – Construction crews have been working hard to turn Coshocton High School’s room 412 into a space that the district’s planetarium can be put back to use.

“In the later part of May or first of June Hathaway Inc. was awarded the contract to start work,” said Ron Derewecki, chair of the Save the Coshocton Planetarium Committee. “I believe all the subcontractors are from Coshocton too so the electrical and plumbing work also is being done by Coshocton people. We are keeping the money in the community.”

Right now they are running about a month behind schedule though. Derewecki believes Hathaway Inc. will finish up the construction phase after the holidays and then Ash Enterprises will come in to install the planetarium.

“We are hoping by the second semester that everything will be complete,” he said. “Ash Enterprises is coming in on Dec 3 to start working on the dome. They will power wash the dome first, then install the dome, and then spray paint it. When complete it will look like a new dome.”

Derewecki added that once everything is complete, there will be a bit of a learning curve with figuring out the new equipment, but they should be able to start taking students through the planetarium by Feb. 1.

Derewecki, a retired Coshocton High School science teacher, ran the planetarium for several years and will start off doing programs. He, however, hopes that someone new will be selected to head it up that he can train. Derewecki said it would be nice if they could have someone from the high school and the elementary school trained on the equipment to help students get programs presented at their level.

“We are working on curriculum for the planetarium,” he said. “Kathy Robbins (the school district’s director of curriculum) is working on committees to develop elementary and high school programs that meet those students’ needs. The planetarium will also be open to other area schools. We will just schedule our kids first and then fill in with others.”

The planetarium was in the former Central Elementary School and was disassembled before the building was torn down in 2013. Since then the Save the Coshocton Planetarium committee has worked on finding a new location for it and raising the $400,000 needed to have it reassembled and updated.

“At this time we are able to do all the upgrades we had planned,” Derewecki said. “We just heard we got a donation from the Schooler Foundation for $10,000. That puts us around $411,000, but construction was more than we planned and we did have to make some cuts here recently. The big thing we want to do is be able to do shows for the kids, but we also want to do public shows. We are going to have a new projector and full dome. Programs came with it, but we had to cut two of the expensive ones we wanted. If we get more donations we can put those back in because they would be ones good for public shows.”

Additional donations also could help pay for someone to operate the planetarium after school.

One area where the fundraising seemed to quickly come in for was the 50 new seats that will be installed at the planetarium.

“I couldn’t believe how fast the seats sold,” Derewecki said. “They were $400 a piece and there were people wanting two to three seats at a time. In three weeks they were all gone and there were still people asking about them.”

The new seating arrangement also will include two areas for wheelchairs that line right up with the rest of the seats.

“The whole planetarium will be handicap accessible and the restrooms will be right nearby,” Derewecki said.

Once the planetarium is fully operational an open house will be held and the community will be invited to come see a show free of charge.

“We (the committee) are very appreciative of the community’s donations for this,” Derewecki said. “It feels good to see it come this far.”

Anyone interested in making a donation to help save the Coshocton Planetarium can make a check out to the Coshocton Business Development Foundation (write planetarium fund in the memo line) and mail it to Save the Coshocton Planetarium, P.O Box 1517, Coshocton, OH 43812. People also are welcome to take a donation to the Home Loan and Savings Bank main branch and ask for it to be deposited in the Save the Coshocton Planetarium account.

“We want this to be for the community and the entire county,” Derewecki said. “I know there are a lot of former students in the county that want to come see it again.”

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Category: Education

About the Author ()

I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!

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