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#1: Curtain rises at the Grand Opera House

By Staff
RESTORATION n The Grand Opera House of Mississippi and Marks-Rothenberg Building will become the Riley Education and Performing Arts Center in 2003. Submitted photo.
The first year of a new millennium was a busy one for Meridian and the surrounding areas. Here is a look at the 10 stories that most captured people's attention. Some of them made us happy, some made us sad but they are the ones that made us think.
From staff reports
Jan. 1, 2001
Meridian's No. 1 story occurred early in the year, on Feb. 3, when Meridianites learned of a project to restore the Grand Opera House of Mississippi and the Marks-Rothenberg Building.
Here's how The Meridian Star's story covering the press conference began:
Since then, the fund-raising for a dream initiated by brothers Richard and William Riley, and MSU President Malcolm Portera, has been completed as private and public resources pulled together to raise the money to transform Meridian's most famous landmark.
A total of $26 million is needed for the restoration.
The cost of the project was shared among various entities including the city of Meridian ($7 million), Lauderdale County ($3 million), federal funds ($6.4 million) and a donation of $10 million from The Riley Foundation.
The final step is a $5 million endowment fund to be used once the facility is complete.
The Riley Education and Performing Arts Center is scheduled to open in 2003. It will include a performing arts school, a state-of-the-art conference center and a long-awaited parking garage.

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