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Local News

Rialto stops GM search, pursues third-party management

JOLIET – The Rialto Square Theatre board on Wednesday decided to let a third-party management company hire a general manager, a process likely to take at least another month.

The board was ready to do final interviews Wednesday and name a general manager, but opted instead to delay the hiring while it pursues a third-party management company. The decision was well-received by people attending the meeting, who urged the board to try a different method of running the theater.

“I’m wholeheartedly asking you to consider a company – not just one person as a general manager – because it hasn’t worked for 40 years,” Kathy Spieler of Joliet told the board at the start of the meeting.

The board met in closed session for about 45 minutes before making the decision to seek a third-party management company and leave the hiring of a general manager to them.

“The consensus is we’re not going any further in hiring a general manager on our own,” board chairman Dan Vera said.

A committee had interviewed nine candidates and narrowed the selection to two finalists, Vera said. He said those candidates were to be interviewed by the full board Wednesday. Instead, Vera said after the meeting, any candidates interested in the job will need to apply to the company chosen as third-party manager.

The board has been operating with an interim general manager since approving a separation agreement with Randy Green in April amid financial problems that included late payments on payroll taxes. Interim General Manager Jack Ericksen has said he is not interested in the job.

City officials had encouraged Vera to consider third-party management as an option. The board on June 1 heard presentations from two companies – Onesti Entertainment and VenuWorks – on services they could provide as third-party managers. But it was not until Wednesday that the board decided to seek a third-party manager instead of hiring a general manager to run the Rialto.

“I feel we came to the right decision after exhaustive research,” board member Dave Thornton said.

The board approved a Request for Qualifications, which will serve as an advertisement for companies interested in submitting proposals. Proposals are due July 15.

Smith departs, Murray coming

The board also passed a resolution honoring fellow member James Smith, who attended his last meeting after serving 20 years on the board.

Vera said after the meeting that Smith will be replaced by Michael Murray, a financial adviser with Riverstone Financial Advisors in Joliet. Murray was appointed to the board by the governor and is expected at the next Rialto meeting July 20.

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