Friday, June 30, 2006

Rebuilding a Theater

I’ve written about Kingfisher, OK (population 4,380) before. I was there on my way to a talk in Enid. I stopped to see how the town recognized its most famous citizen, Sam Walton, who was born there in 1918.

The town’s only movie theater, an old single screen, was destroyed by fire in 2004 and the owners decided not to rebuild. A lot of towns would have just moved on and chalked it up to bad luck.

But, Kingfisher is not a normal town. A small group of citizens got together and decided that for the betterment of the community they had to rebuild. Here is how Tim McKay of First Capital Bank and project manager (read ram-rod) told it to me.

“Many possibilities were discussed and eventually led to a meeting with an architect from Texas that had done some renovations jobs at theatres in Oklahoma. The original cost estimate was around $500,000 for the project. At that point investors were sought and we were on our way. The story from that point is one of the most fascinating tales of community pride and commitment that I have had the good fortune of having been involved. The project cost almost doubled, but the group remained committed for the betterment of the community. Each investors return on investment can be measured by the quality of life for our community not by some rate of return. Since the theatre has opened it has been extremely popular and been a source of vibrant activity in downtown Kingfisher.”

Those dozen investors understand the importance of institutions like a local theater. I find them in every town I visit around the USA. Today I salute those in Kingfisher.

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