MHS alum leading auditorium drive

MARIETTA – No one would mistake Devola resident Bert Goddard for Dr. Evil, but he, like the megalomaniacal villain from the “Austin Powers” movies, will soon be asking people for “one million dollars.”

But Goddard is seeking the money for a good cause – the renovation of the Marietta High School auditorium, where he performed as a saxophonist in the band in the ’70s and his daughters have and will continue to participate in music programs in years to come.

Goddard approached the Marietta City Schools Board of Education about spearheading a project to raise private funds to do the work last year and recently got the $1 million total cost estimate from architect Dave Haught, of Marietta-based DLH Design.

“When you’re a ‘common folk,’ in my opinion, yeah, a million dollars is a lot of money,” said Goddard, 53. “But there are a lot of alumni who’ve done very well.

“I’m not intimidated by it because I’m dogmatic. I have a goal,” he said.

In addition to seeking donations from alumni, Goddard plans to contact businesses about corporate sponsorship. And people will also be offered the chance to purchase individual seats for $375, which will include a nameplate for the donor or someone they want to honor.

MHS director of bands Ernie Cornell said the auditorium is one of the best – if not the best – in the area, but there are some “very basic” renovations needed to keep it that way.

“It needs a lot of TLC,” he said.

Goddard said the project will transform the auditorium into “a showcase place” and preserve the 47-year-old facility for decades to come.

Plans call for installing two corridors to the stage along the sides of the auditorium, which will allow for improved acoustics and bring the facility in line with requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. New acoustic tiles and lighting, a darker coloring for the stage to cut down on glare and an expanded sound booth are also on the agenda.

Adding the corridors will reduce the number of seats in the auditorium from just under 1,200, but Goddard said the loss will be minimized as much as possible since the auditorium is already standing-room-only for Christmas concerts.

“We can’t afford to lose too many seats,” he said.

Cornell said he’s impressed with the effort Goddard has given the project already.

“We think it’s amazing,” he said. “The fact that he was willing to put this much time and energy into it to this point has really been a blessing.”

Goddard is working on the project with other individuals, including the middle and high school choir and band directors.

Marietta school board President Greg Gault said this project would follow the renovation of the high school’s weight room and girls locker room, which were funded through private donations. It’s work the district simply doesn’t have the money for right now.

“I think it’s fantastic,” Gault said. “This could truly be a first-class facility in the state.”

Goddard said there’s no time table for the project to begin. He’d like to get all the money secured first, so the work could be done all together instead of in stages.

“Give us a million dollars today, we’ll start tomorrow,” he said with a laugh.