Save the Coshocton Planetarium committee in need of $100,000 more in donations

| March 6, 2017

COSHOCTON – The Save the Coshocton Planetarium committee only needs about $100,000 more to fully complete its restoration project.

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 funds to have it reassembled and updated.

Ron Derewecki, chair of the committee, said they have the location, room 412 at Coshocton High School, and have around $301,000 of the roughly $400,000 needed to get the planetarium up and running.

“We had to revise a few things in our plans,” he said. “We made some cuts to keep it in the $400,000 range though because we knew that was about as much as we could get and didn’t want to go over. We got a pretty good start too (on fundraising). We received $40,000 from the Coshocton Foundation and $50,000 from the Montgomery Foundation and had our money for the architect. We received some from the Simpson Foundation too and things were going along pretty decent. Then we hit a standstill.”

However, right before Christmas, the committee picked up another $25,000 from the Montgomery Foundation who then turned around and gave $25,000 more in January. The Coshocton Foundation gave an additional $18,000, $15,000 came from the Ralph Wisenburg Fund and the Charles and Dorothy Bechtol Fund gave $10,000.

“We have enough money to get started on the construction portion of the project,” Derewecki said. “This coming Friday (March 3) the drawings from our architect should be completed and then we will submit them to the state. I’m told it takes a couple of weeks for approval so by the middle of March we should have state approval and then the school board will advertise for bids for the project. We are hoping to begin construction as early as June 1.”

The planetarium was originally installed in 1962 and has not received any major updates since then, which is why the committee needs to raise its last $100,000.

“Everything today is digital, but the method we showed pictures on was through slides and a slide projector,” Derewecki said. “Those don’t exist anymore so everything needs converted to digital.”

Other upgrades on the list include: Cove lighting, a new control console, a full dome video projector, a planetarium projector lift and new seats.

“The possibility of doing shows for the public is one reason why we want the full dome projector,” Derewecki said. “It will do a much better job with shows.”

Anyone interested in making a tax deductable 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 or donate by following the link on the group’s Facebook page.

Another way people can contribute is by purchasing one of the 50 new seats Derewecki said they hope to install in the planetarium.

“We could use the old seats, but we only have 30 of them and in the new location we will be able to have 50,” he said. “Bob Crown, another member of the committee, and I went to Ohio State’s planetarium and their seats were so comfortable, tilted back and were durable. The company who will restore the planetarium can put in these Manhattan Planetarium Seats. We thought as a fundraiser we could sell seats and put plaques on each one for the person who purchased it. The cost is $400 a seat, but we wanted something durable. I did a little work in the old planetarium before it was torn down. When I taught it had bench seats and then theater seats, but they were not durable and had to be repaired constantly. We are trying to get away from that and put our money into something that is nice, comfortable and will be durable over the years. We don’t know when it will get renovated again.”

Checks for the seats and the name of the person to be placed on the plaque also can be sent to P.O. Box 1517.

“I operated the planetarium for over 30 years and the big thing for me is that I feel it’s an extremely good educational tool,” Derewecki said. “I volunteer and go help Tim Ward in sixth grade science classes and see the students coming up and don’t want them to get short changed. So many people in the community have gone through our education system and benefited from the planetarium. I haven’t met one student who said they didn’t enjoy it. It creates an interest in science and when the third or fourth grade students go to it for the first time it’s really an awe inspiring experience for them.”

The Save the Coshocton Planetarium committee includes: Dr. David Hire, Steve Clark, Chuck Hathaway, Bob Crown, Geralyn Raach, Marla Hawthorne, and Peggy Bowman.

“Peggy’s dad Ron Cramblett wrote the grant that brought the planetarium to Coshocton and a nephew of his, Frank Weaver, is our architect,” Derewecki said.

If the committee raises the final $100,000, he believes the planetarium could be up and running by Christmas time.

“That all depends on getting all the money we need,” Derewecki said. “We have enough money to hire the contractor and put the instrument back in the way it was, but not for upgrades. We are hoping we can get more funds from local businesses and individuals because the foundations have already given a tremendous amount of money. I greatly appreciate them because they have really come through for us.”

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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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