Events linked to the circus help raise about $19,000 for the Struthers Band Boosters.
By PAUL WHEATLEY
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
STRUTHERS -- The show will go on.
For the past 29 years, lifetime resident James DeChellis Jr. has enjoyed the Aut Mori Grotto Circus when it visits.
He and his 3-year-old daughter have been wowed by the animals and acts.
But the 37-year relationship between the circus and the school district was threatened because of upcoming construction conflicts, Superintendent Sandi DiBacco said.
Officials' meeting: However, school architects, district and city officials met with circus representatives for about an hour this morning and agreed to stage the 2002 circus under a big-top tent at Struthers Stadium.
A new high school is in the works. Construction is expected to start in mid-August and take two years. The circus visits the field house every spring.
"Everybody seems to be pretty happy with the resolution," said DiBacco, who previously suggested using the temporary location.
DiBacco said she also suggested the field house behind Eagle Heights Academy in Youngstown, any other outdoor facility in Mahoning County, or Beeghly Center at Youngstown State University.
Now organizers just have to decide on a date for the weeklong circus that is usually here in March.
DiBacco said the west side of the Struthers field house will be consumed during construction, making it unusable. The date of the circus may be moved back to warmer spring weather because it will be in a tent.
Sandy Colburn, president of Struthers Band Boosters, said the band program would be hurt if the circus left town.
Funds linked to circus: She said about $19,000 of the $27,190 budgeted by the boosters per year comes from fund-raisers connected with the circus. She also said $10,000 the school brings in from renting out the field house to the circus would be lost.
"There's no fund-raiser in the world that can make up for this money," she said.
Before hearing news that an agreement was worked out, DeChellis remained hopeful the circus would find a home nearby.
"They can make it work," he said.
Circus organizer Bill Duffy of Austintown acknowledge he was a bit nervous before the meeting.
City council passed a resolution last week urging the board of education to work out a contract renewal with the circus.