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Joliet mayor makes Rialto Square Theatre appointments

The Rialto Square Theatre is seen in November 2014.
The Rialto Square Theatre is seen in November 2014.

JOLIET – The new Rialto Square Theatre board should be ready to do business after Mayor Bob O'Dekirk's appointments were confirmed by the city council on Tuesday.

O'Dekirk's four appointees have a mix of business, legal and government experience.

They are:

• Jeff Pierson, who is president of the the Joliet Township High School board and works as a financial adviser;

• Donnie Chestnut, a Joliet resident and banker at Providence Bank & Trust's office in Lockport;

• Kathy Trizna, who is co-owner of Chicago Street Bar & Grill in downtown Joliet and organizes Hopstring Fest, a popular summer music festival, with her husband Mike;.

• Joe Carlasare, an attorney who was an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for Will County Board in November;

They will join Robert Filotto, a Joliet businessman who was named to the board by the governor Jan. 4.

The governor has three appointments and the mayor has four appointments to the seven-member board. Rauner has not yet named his other two appointments.

The previous Rialto board resigned on Dec. 29 after a tumultuous year in which the theater stopped paying payroll taxes for several months, the former general manager was forced out, and half a year went by without the theater booking shows.

The five members now on the board are enough to constitute a quorum so the board can do business at its next scheduled meeting Jan. 25.

"We've spoken to all the current appointees so far," Carlasare told the council. "I think we have a good team."

Carlasare appeared before the council with Chestnut, the two appointees who were at the meeting, to introduce themselves.

"I've been in banking for the last 29 years," Chestnut said. She has lived in Joliet since 1974.

O'Dekirk after the meeting noted that Carlasare is a bankruptcy attorney, which he said may be useful at the Rialto. One of the issues facing the new board is dealing with about $600,000 in unpaid bills.

O'Dekirk emphasized during the meeting the difficulty of appointing four people out of more than 40 applicants.

He reiterated his plan to create a blue ribbon committee, including business people who, he said, would provide "a non-political, honest assessment of the theater."

O'Dekirk said he is "using caution" as to who is appointed to the committee.

"There's people who have co-opted this issue and just used it as an avenue to attack people," he said.

Ed Rachel, president of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 124, which provides stagehands at the Rialto, told the council he is hopeful about the theater's future.

"It's been a real challenge," Rachel said. "It's great to see you've all worked together and found a way and a solution to keep things going."

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