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Local News

Dan Vera replaces James Smith as chairman of Rialto board

Marquee bill growing by $40,000

JOLIET – James Smith, the embattled chairman of the Rialto Square Theatre board during the marquee crisis, was replaced in an election of officers on Wednesday.

The new chairman is Dan Vera, who had been vice chairman and has been taking an increasingly bigger role on the board since the marquee issue started.

The marquee issue arose again Wednesday as the board learned that it will cost about $40,000 to update the existing sign. The board voted to seek bids on auxiliary work needed to update the sign without making a final decision on whether to spend the $40,000.

The board made no decision on what to do with a new marquee that has cost the Rialto $197,000 but is sitting in pieces at the sign company since it was stopped in mid-production because of opposition to the design.

Smith made a statement saying he had decided not to run for another term. He was in his second term and had served as chairman for three years.

The board recently adopted bylaws that called for another election before Smith completed the second year of his term.

Smith has been on the Rialto board since 1996 and will remain a member of the board.

“Boards need rotation,” Smith said. “It’s only healthy.”

Smith said he had no regrets about his time as chairman.

City Councilman Pat Mudron, the city’s liaison to the Rialto board, noted the marquee when thanking Smith at the meeting for his service as chairman. Smith replied, “I’m a firm believer in the old saying that adversity builds character. I have as much character as I need.”

Vera in a brief statement noted that “we begin with new leadership and a desire to work together and move forward.”

Other board members elected to officer positions are Cynthia Tyler, vice chairman, and David Thornton, secretary.

Vera led the effort to create the bylaws. He also cleaned up a backlog in Freedom of Information Act requests after taking over in April as the new FOIA officer. He served on a marquee committee that recommended the Rialto update its existing sign rather than moving forward with a new marquee that faced opposition.

Rialto General Manager Randy Green told the board that Landmark Sign Group has informed him that new electronics could be put into the existing marquee at a price of just under $40,000.

That price does not include repainting the face of the marquee and the vertical Rialto sign, replacing existing lights with LED lighting and laying conduit to connect a new message board with the computer that will control messages.

The Rialto will seek bids on that work.

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