WILLIAMSON – At a regular meeting of the Mingo County Commission held Wednesday, Feb. 3 the Tug Valley Arts Council (TVAC) approached the commission to provide a report on the Rose G. Smith Theater and discuss future plans for the location.
Jason Marshall, President of the TVAC and Paul Pinson, Treasurer of the TVAC were in attendance at the meeting on behalf of the TVAC.
Pinson opened the discussion stating, “Jason and I are here more to report more than anything else on our partnership with the Mingo County Commission in trying to make the Rose G. Smith Theater a viable place for our community to use.”
Pinson continued, discussing the importance of grant funding to restoration efforts at the Rose G. Theater. “What we have found is that we need to have more of a long term right to use the Rose G. Theater in order to get grants. As the commission and the TVAC know, we are going to have to rely on grants in order to fund the rehabilitation of that facility,” Pinson explained.
“We were somewhat under the opinion that the county should be involved with the funding of the roof repair and the heating and air conditioning system. The TVAC will try to do the other things inside. One of which would be to fix the two restrooms. The restrooms are essentially inoperable. We will also try to fix the lift to allow it to be handicap accessible. Also inside the theater which is still in good conditions,” Pinson continued.
Marshall agreed stating, “It does need minor improvements. There are chairs that don’t function and the curtains. Minor issues…”
Pinson responded stating, “We are working on some grants. Typically the grants are a 50/50 match. We will have to come up with 50 percent of it and a government agency providing the other half.”
Marshall offered additional explanation concerning the grants. “If we get a 50/50 match, we have to come up with our 50 percent first. That is kind of a daunting task…”
Marshall also discussed the importance of having a long term lease to establish grant funding. “The other thing about that grant is that it has to be a 20 year lease on the property. They don’t want to invest the money in fixing the property up if we are only going to stay there for five years. It has to be a minimum of 20 years. I don’t know how that works with the commission or if that would be an issue,” Marshall said.
Commissioner Greg “Hootie” Smith responded stating, “The County is not allowed to go into a lease or agreement outside of our terms. Our lease agreements have to be looked at on a year to year basis based on the budget and the ability to fund because we have duties to fund constitutional offices first before we can fund anything outside. What I would perceive with regards to that; currently, the property is under the ownership of our redevelopment authority which has the ability under the law to enter into long term agreements. What the redevelopment authority has done for us is leased portions of that building to the commission such as the museum down below it.
“What would probably have to happen is the commission would have to release the Rose G. Theater portion from our lease that we have with the redevelopment authority and let the redevelopment authority do a 20 year lease for the use of the theater to give you the long term commitment that you need that by law we cannot do. I do think that it would all be feasible.”
Pinson responded stating, “With that in mind, it would probably only need to be the interior part of that facility so that the county commission would still have the roof and air conditioning system are we agreed on that?”
Smith responded stating, “Absolutely. We have all agreed that if we are going to have that investment, we have to have that roof fixed. We identified that as a priority amongst ourselves.”
Pinson responded stating, “We will move forward then and see what we can come up with and report back.”
Marshall spoke next stating, “I have one more request from the Arts Council if you will indulge me. We could use a letter of support for our current grant. We need to have that submitted by March 1.”
Smith responded stating, “I would move that we give a letter of support for the Arts Council.”
Commissioner Diann Hannah seconded the motion and it was approved unanimously.
The next regular meeting of the Mingo County Commission will be held Tuesday, Feb. 16 at 4:30 p.m. at the Mingo County Courthouse.
(Courtney Pigman is a news reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be contacted at [email protected], or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2279.)