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Donation pushes along amphitheater project

Medford's Boise Building Solutions donates &

36;35,000 to the Expo's proposed performance center

CENTRAL POINT ' A &

36;35,000 donation from Boise Building Solutions of Medford has put the Lithia Amphitheater project within about &

36;650,000 of its &

36;3 million goal.

The donation, confirmed by Boise Area Manager Dick Rudisile, is the most recent of several large, local contributions for the proposed 5,800-seat performance center at the Jackson County Fairgrounds and Exposition Park.

Its announcement Friday came even as Jackson County concluded difficult budget hearings this week and as state leaders continued to grapple with plummeting budget deficits.

But Rudisile, who chairs the county budget committee, said he sees no conflict between the private capital campaign and government's public financial woes.

— Boise agreed to donate the money more than a year ago, pending construction approval of the Expo project, Rudisile said.

But he added that the contribution is aimed at making Expo programs self-supporting, a goal in line with his vision of the county budget.

I think it's what we ought to be doing with other parts of the county, Rudisile said. They will become self-supporting and independent.

It's a model that he would encourage other county-supported entities, including the Southern Oregon Historical Society, to emulate.

They could charge fees or set up other funding mechanisms, Rudisile said.

The amphitheater, when completed, is expected to become a money-maker as the largest performing arts facility in Southern Oregon.

Organizers said they're conscious of the delicacy of fund-raising for a capital project during a statewide economic crisis.

We don't view this as pulling money away from health and human services and social services, said Jackson County Fair Manager Chris Borovansky.

He noted that much of the funding for the project has come from funds specifically targeted for capital construction.

Social service programs would not be eligible for these funds, he said.

Additionally, when the venue becomes self-supporting, part of the income will be used for youth programs such as 4-H and fair activities.

Private contributors who have supported the amphitheater, including the namesake donors, are also longtime benefactors to other causes. Lithia Motors donated &

36;500,000 to the project.

I don't think anybody could look at Lithia and say they're just building an amphitheater, Borovansky said. Lithia Motors and the DeBoer family are one of the biggest local supporters of social programs.

Reach reporter JoNel Aleccia at 776-4465, or e-mail