News Release

Published on Thursday, May 10, 2007

Tomah’s Area Community Theatre (ACT) and Western Technical College signed closing papers last week, finalizing the sale of the former CenturyTel building in downtown Tomah. Talks among the three parties for the purchase and development of the building began in December of 2005. The sale of the building moves the project forward and the building closer to its renovation.

“We are excited to get this project underway,” said Gary Kirking, Western’s Tomah campus administrator. “Having our campus downtown will allow for greater accessibility and will bring more people to other downtown businesses. The new facility will also give us room for future expansion without requiring a large investment.”

"The Area Community Theatre shares that excitement," said Fred Wahls, ACT's president and artistic director. "What we're building is a Community Civic Arts Center, a place where all the arts can be performed and displayed. In fact, we're planning on having an art gallery as well as rehearsal rooms for piano and dance instruction in addition to the Main Stage Theatre."

“Although other potential buyers were interested, none of the other opportunities provide such a wonderful educational, cultural, and economic possibility for the city of Tomah and Monroe County,” said Bob Brown, general manager for CenturyTel. “This is a wonderful plan to use the building in a way that will benefit the Tomah community for future generations. There were a lot of moving parts needed to get this vision underway and I compliment Western, ACT, the Tomah School Board, and citizens in the area who are committed to the project.”

The 34,644-square-foot building, located at 120 E. Milwaukee Street, was acquired by CenturyTel in 1998 when the company purchased PTI (Pacific Telecom, Inc.). In the terms of the sale, Western will own and use one wing, or 20,616-square-feet, of the three-winged facility. The remaining two wings will be owned and occupied by ACT.

This summer the Area Community Theatre will be moving all of its equipment into the new facility. In addition, they will be building a new stage, installing theatre lights, sound equipment, and theatre seats so that the 2007-2008 theatre season can be presented on schedule.

Western plans to begin remodeling this summer and expects to occupy the building by January 2008. There is a pending agreement with the Tomah Area School District to sell the college’s existing campus on Town Line Road.