Two men with major roles in Edmonds Center for Arts to be honored Tuesday

Terry Vehrs
Terry Vehrs
John McGibbon
John McGibbon

Twelve years ago, the Edmonds City Council appointed five individuals from the community to the Board of the newly formed Edmonds Public Facilities District. The purpose of the District was to build and operate a “regional center,” such as a convention, conference or special events center, within the boundaries of the City of Edmonds, to serve the Puget Sound region and to attract tourism and generate economic activity for the local community.

Two of the five original members of the Edmonds Public Facilities (PFD) Board, John McGibbon and Terry Vehrs, have recently reached the end of their third and final term of service and are retired from the PFD Board effective June 30, 2013. During their tenure, the original Edmonds High School campus was preserved and transformed into Edmonds Center for the Arts. Edmonds Center for the Arts (ECA) is in its seventh year of operation. Under the leadership of McGibbon and Vehrs, the only individuals who have served as PFD president to date, the Center was established. They will be honored on July 16 at 5 p.m. at a public reception at ECA, and at the Edmonds City Council meeting later that evening.

McGibbon, himself a 1953 graduate of Edmonds High School (when it was still housed on the original campus) and the son of Former Edmonds Mayor Paul McGibbon (1949-1955), has called the City of Edmonds home his entire life. He and his wife, Anona, live on Main Street just up the hill from Frances Anderson Center. For McGibbon, the opportunity to play a role in preserving a major portion of the original Edmonds High School property and facilities for future generations to enjoy was a dream come true. “When Puget Sound Christian College announced that they would sell the property, and our Board was presented with the opportunity to purchase and restore it, I knew we had found the right project,” said McGibbon. “My father taught there, my sister Mary and I went to school there, and I knew how much the history of the place meant to the City. When the history was matched with the demand for a quality performance venue for our local arts groups, saving the buildings and developing the new arts center seemed a worthy path to pursue.”

Vehrs also grew up in Edmonds and now lives in Woodway with his wife, Lara, and their children Lauren, Jonathan and Hanna. Vehrs’ interest in the PFD Board and in the project stemmed from his personal passion for the arts, and his strong interest in the City’s economic growth and stability. Vehrs began his service to the community at the age of 14, when he volunteered to help with the Edmonds Arts Festival. His commitment to the festival expanded over the years as he ultimately became the Festival’s Director, and finally its President. In 1988, Vehrs was appointed to the Edmonds Arts Festival Foundation Board and he remains a member to this day.

It was the prospect of bringing new people and new business to Edmonds that first attracted Vehrs to pursue a position on the Edmonds PFD Board. As the arts-focused effort evolved, Vehrs’ excitement and commitment only grew. “It was the perfect combination as far as I was concerned,” said Vehrs. “I had been a part of the arts community for years, and this gave us all a chance to strengthen that community, to improve our quality of life and to draw people from all over the region to Edmonds to attend events, eat at our local restaurants, spend the night at our local hotel and really make a difference. I’m proud to say that I think ECA has done all of those things, and more.”

A reception will be held for Vehrs and McGibbon on Tuesday, July 16 beginning at 5 p.m. in the ECA Lobby. The reception is open to the public but RSVPs are requested, which can be sent Executive Director Joe McIalwain via email at [email protected]. The two men will also be honored at the Edmonds City Council Meeting on Tuesday beginning at 7 p.m. in City Council Chambers.  All are welcome to attend the meeting or tune in on Channel 21.

— Story submitted by the Edmonds Center for the Arts

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