Rockford’s Veterans Memorial Hall may close for summer after A/C thefts

Building was hit by copper thieves.
Published: Mar. 22, 2023 at 6:56 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Now was not the time for Veterans Memorial Hall Director Scott Lewandowski to discover that all the copper on the building’s four air conditioners had been stolen.

New units have been ordered but because of supply chain issues in the heating and air conditioning industry, they won’t be delivered for months.

“Right now, we are being told 27 to 40 weeks,” Lewandowski said.

That means it could be well into December before the building has air conditioning. It also means that it’s likely that the 120-year-old museum that honors Winnebago County veterans will be extremely hot during summer with no way to adequately cool the air. Those conditions, Lewandowski said, would put the public and the wartime artifacts in the building at risk.

“Especially June, July, and August, maybe into September,” he said. “Once the air conditioning season is over, we’ll start having people back into the building.”

Lewandowski said closing during warm months means the museum will miss its peak event season. He says he is not canceling anything that’s already on the books but he isn’t booking anything else this year, which means the museum will miss out on as much as $20,000 in rental fees.

During summer, Memorial Hall, which is owned by he county and funded by property taxes, is regularly used for concerts, weddings, meetings, and special events.

Cost to replace the air conditioning is estimated at $300,000, Lewandowski said.

Meanwhile, staff will be busy looking for ways to keep the facility’s artifacts cool. Lewandowski said that may involve using fans to keep some air flowing or using small air conditioners in small areas.

Heating and air professionals say Lewandowski insn’t alone. Lead time on parts and full A/C units is as much as a year in some cases.

PremiStar General Manager Ryan Winebaugh said to compensate for those long lead times, he’s been trying to stock as much product as possible, something he typically doesn’t do.

Winebaugh said while carrying inventory has helped, it’s still been taking months to get certain equipment.

“If you need rooftop units—all commercial stuff–it’s about 7 1/2 months out right now just for rooftop units,” he said. “Everything is extended. Anything in our world has been tough.”