LOGAN — With the smell of fresh paint still lingering in the air, bubbly choristers scale the risers in the group’s revamped practice space. Several excited singers take the opportunity to personally thank Citizens Bank President Dan Fischer for the bank’s generosity in opening up the office space at 96 W. Hunter St., to better fit the needs of the ever-growing Hocking County Children’s Chorus.

While traditionally housed at Logan’s cultural arts center, The Bowen House, pre-registration figures provided sophomore director Therese Karnes with a glimpse into the organization’s future, particularly the group’s projected growth.

“2015-2016 was a very successful year, and pre-registration for the 2016-2017 season indicated the chorus would most likely double in size. Because of this wonderful growth, HCCC had to find a new home,” Karnes explained.

“Knowing it would be impossible to rehearse at The Bowen House with the numbers projected for next year’s Chorus, a search began in late spring to look for a new space,” she added.

In a beneficial twist of fate, the Citizens Bank had a downtown building just sitting empty, waiting for a makeover. With the addition of a new roof, lighting, ducting, cleaning, and a splash of paint, the bank’s former collections building was transformed into the perfect practice space for the HCCC.

“Citizens Bank of Logan stepped forward and is generously donating the Chorus the use of the space,” Karnes explained. “The new HCCC music room is handicap accessible and is ideally located in the heart of downtown Logan for the families that walk to/from rehearsals. It allows for a comfortable waiting space for parents who are often waiting with toddlers in tow.”

Although sad to say goodbye to the familiar scenery at The Bowen House, parents and kids alike are excited for the opportunity to stretch their legs and raise their voices in their new home.

“The Bowen House has so many opportunities and it’s so eclectic, but they just outgrew it … just to have an environment where everything is here. It’s large enough. It’s professional for the kids, as well,” chorus parent Melissa Myers said. “The space here is more accommodating for a growing choir.”

“I think it’s more relaxed here. It means a lot to the group to be able to have the practices here, the costumes. It’s nice to know everything’s going to be here,” Shana McGhee, chorister mom, said.

Eleven-year-old Bailey Lape, who played the Wicked Witch in last year’s production of The Wizard of Oz, is pleased with the new space and encourages other children to get involved.

“We’ve been able to have more items — risers, a projector — so we can do more. It’s a really good program, and it’s really fun,” Lape remarked.

“The HCCC works to enrich the lives of both the youth of Hocking County as well as its communities,” Karnes explained. “Other than private lessons, there are no other community chorus or theater opportunities offered for the younger children of Hocking County.

"The chorus is committed to providing quality music instruction and strives to create an environment in which children can experience the joy of singing, develop confidence and become a vital part of a musical team. Children are also introduced to the basics of acting, choreography, and theater.”

It was the community focus that inspired Fischer to donate the space to the organization.

“We weren’t using the building, and it was an opportunity for us to turn a negative into a positive. The kids had no place to go, and this lets us give back to the community,” Fischer explained. “It allowed the bank an opportunity to invest in a downtown building and give the kids a place to practice.”

Although the Hocking County Children’s Chorus is only in its second year with Karnes at the helm, the organization dates back to 1979 with founder Judie Henniger as acting director until she passed the torch to Karnes in 2015. The organization is open to all second- to eighth-graders in Hocking County.

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