Smith chairs the board of governors of the Catoosa County Foundation for the Performing Arts, which oversees operation of the center.
She said more than 52,000 people used the building in the last year. “Ninety-five percent of these people were from Catoosa County,” she said.
In addition to 14 government meetings held at The Colonnade, 8,691 people attended corporate events; 10,812 attended social and civic organizations events; 13,864 attended classes and meetings held by the Catoosa school system; 11,800 attended the Church of Catoosa; and 6,865 attended theater events, she said.
“Theater attendance has been from a majority of school children at matinees,” Smith said. “For our Christmas program ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ we had four sell-out matinees for children. All the children are charged a nominal fee.
“This is what it is all about — getting our children involved in the community and providing something for Catoosa County,” she said.
Moreover, she said, The Colonnade has been financially successful, mostly through hard work by The Colonnade staff and the volunteers from the county who work at the facility and serve on the board of governors.
The board includes vice chairman Dennis Young, Beth Kellerhals, Boyd Steele, Sherry Mashburn, John Selmon, J.B. Petty and Raymond Clark.
She said revenues from Oct. 1, 2002, through Jan. 16, 2003, were $189,458. “That is three and a half months,” she said. “We are very proud of that.”
Smith said The Colonnade’s expenses for fiscal 2001-02 were $410,144. Total revenues were $327,125, a difference of $83,019.
“The Colonnade utilized $83,019 of the $125,000 budget provided by the county,” she said. “I think that is unbelievable for our second year. Everyone told us that would not happen.”
Of the expenditures, she said $21,842 was for capital improvements and $28,978.12 for equipment.
“In the foundation’s contract with the county, the 2001-02 utilities and maintenance were to be furnished by the county,” she said. “The second year’s was to be negotiated. When The Colonnade submitted the 2003 budget, the utilities were taken on as The Colonnade’s responsibility. The utilities will be paid by The Colonnade.”
Smith said a retired businessman is working with The Colonnade staff for theater and performing arts grants, which could help The Colonnade offer even more community activities.
“We have already applied for one (grant),” she said. “We will be hearing from it soon. If we are able to get that, we will be able to provide classes working with the school system.
“We now have a theater coordinator who will coordinate all of that,” she said. “We are also hoping to get some of our senior citizens to have an arts class so we can teach them drama and so we will have our seniors on our stage.”
Over recent months The Colonnade has been a topic of conversation among several county residents.
In November some residents, including Phyllis Williams, Commissioner Burk Hale and former Commissioner Hudon Tatum, asked to review records at The Colonnade.
Resident Cherise Miller urged commissioners on Feb. 18 to take operational control of The Colonnade from the Catoosa County Foundation for the Performing Arts, which oversees operation of the center.
On Jan. 15, Jesse Hawkins of Fort Oglethorpe told commissioners he was disappointed in The Colonnade because some area children had to hold an event elsewhere.
“When the taxpayers’ kids have to go to Walker County (to hold) an event, there has to be something wrong,” Hawkins said. “These kids wonder why they cannot use The Colonnade. If it is an auditorium for the elite for plays, then build these people a center where they can go and have things and use the kitchen.”
Commissioner Bobby Winters said previously that some residents perceive The Colonnade as a “country club.”
Amanda Spencer also told commissioners in January that she had concerns about some seniors not being able to use The Colonnade’s kitchen.
Rates to hold events at The Colonnade vary depending on elements utilized, what rooms users select, the size of the event, what individual (county resident or non-county resident) or organization (school, corporate, non-profit) is planning the event and equipment required by the user.
All fees and charges from The Colonnade go to Catoosa County for the operating costs of the facility.
Event coordinator Chrissy Munoz outlined current charges relating to some very basic events held in the White Oak Room.
One common element for any event is food.
According to Munoz, The Colonnade does not allow users to provide their own food. Food must be provided from a caterer who appears on The Colonnade’s approved list.
In order to serve food at The Colonnade, a caterer must provide a business license with the caterer’s name on it, $1 million in liability insurance specifically naming Catoosa County government and and a health inspection re-port.
Charges for the food provided at any event are decided between the caterer and the user.
“It is hard (to estimate caterer’s charges),” she said. “They could do hors d’oeuvres, plated meals, a buffet. All those prices are so different.”
The Colonnade receives an additional catering fee based on 20 percent of the caterer’s final charges.
If the caterer would like to utilize the kitchen in The Colonnade there is an additional $200 per event charge utilized for upkeep of the kitchen paid to the Colonnade by the user.
Various pricing scenarios include:
* A Catoosa County father is planning an intimate wedding reception for 50 people on the weekend. Cost of using the White Oak Room, including the set up of tables, chairs and clean up after the event, is $250. In order to provide food, the father must choose an approved caterer.
According to Munoz, the one exception to the approved caterer’s policy is specialty wedding cakes.
* A Catoosa County school club is planning to hold an awards gathering for 50. Cost of using the White Oak Room, including set up of tables, chairs and clean-up, is $175. If the club decides to arrange for food from a caterer, The Colonnade waives the additional 20 percent fee.
* A corporate client plans to hold a meeting with 50 employees. Cost of using the White Oak Room, including set up of tables, chairs and clean-up, is $250.
* A non-profit organization represented by a Catoosa resident plans to hold its quarterly meeting for 50 people. Cost of using the White Oak Room, including set up of tables, chairs and clean-up, is $200. In order to provide snacks for the event, the organization would need to choose an approved caterer.