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Friday, March 27, 2015 12:00 AM

2015 Significant Community Program Award honoree

"A tremendous example of the power of committed citizens using the resources of public access television to achieve their goals.”

Volunteer workers at Oak Hill Chapel

When the City of Janesville began to reluctantly consider demolishing the beautiful but crumbling 1899 Oak Hill Chapel because estimates for its restoration were in the six figures, resident stained glass expert, Richard Snyder stepped forward, hoping to do something about it.  The city ultimately agreed to a several month delay in order to give the community an opportunity to raise the necessary funds. 

Residents organized the Friends of Oak Hill Chapel to focus volunteer and fundraising efforts.  It immediately became apparent that a lot of publicity would be needed.  Richard and community television producer Jim Crittenden turned to Janesville JATV for help.  JATV produced a studio program about the project to get the word out quickly over cable and its video-on-demand site. Then it loaned Jim video production equipment so he could document the restoration, which became a series of programs carried on JATV that demonstrated to the community the beauty of the windows.

Duane Brewer, Director of JATV says the programs “also showcased Richard’s skill and understanding of the restoration process, which would be critical to the overall success of the plan.” Also critical were the hours and hours of work done by volunteers at the chapel site.  JATV covered the work and helped recruit more skilled volunteers who donated time and materials.  The City estimates that the donations of labor plus the $19,000 in cash donations has resulted in $60,000 worth of restoration work.

Oak Hill Chapel

More needs to be done, but the chapel’s future is assured.  In the summer of 2014, all the shows that had been produced by JATV were collected into a DVD set and sold to supporters.  Brewer says of the Oak Hill restoration project, “It became a tremendous example of the power of committed citizens using the resources of public access television to achieve their goals.”  

WCM will be recognizing JATV and all of the producers of the Oak Hill Chapel programs with a 2015 Significant Community Program Award at our 2015 Video Fest Banquet and Show to be held in Milwaukee on Thursday April 30 at the downtown Hilton.  We will feature other significant community programs in upcoming issues.