From: Columbus, OH
Registered: Feb 2003
posted June 24, 2003 05:09 PM
From the Associated Press, via the Columbus Dispatch
VAN WERT, Ohio (AP) -- Residents are raising money to help rebuild a movie theater destroyed by a tornado seven months ago.
"There are people in town who kept saying, 'We want to do something. Someone ought to do something,' '' said J.D. Bruewer, an organizer of the fund-raiser.
The five-screen Van Wert Cinemas was hit during a storm that swept across northwest Ohio on Nov. 10. The tornado ripped away part of the steel-framed walls and roof, tossing three cars into the front of a theater that had been filled with children.
No one inside was hurt. Theater employees had herded about 50 people into a brick hallway and restrooms minutes before.
Owner Jim Boyd had recently expanded the cinema from two to five screens. He said the project had gone over budget and that the property was underinsured.
The insurance settlement from the damage had paid debts on the businesses, he said.
"When this tornado hit, some people were well-prepared,'' Boyd said. "I was ill-prepared.''
Residents have rallied around the theater because it's a center of social life in this northwest Ohio town about 80 miles southwest of Toledo.
"We're a small community -- not a lot of things to do,'' said Rick McCoy, the county's emergency management director. "We don't have a county swimming pool or recreational centers. The main thing to do is go to the movies or bowling. Without the five cinemas there, people leave town.''
It has a ripple effect.
"Now people go to the movies in Fort Wayne (Ind.) and not only the movies, but they eat there and shop there,'' McCoy said.
Boyd also lost his home next door to the theater and the adjacent drive-in theater.
He said he expects to receive a small business loan to rebuild the cinemas by this summer. If all goes well, at least three screens could be open by Nov. 1, he said.
The cost of rebuilding the cinemas is around $800,000. Boyd said he doesn't know whether the drive-in will be rebuilt.
"Everyone considered the drive-in a community treasure,'' he said. "If there's any way to get that back, that is another goal.''
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