Jeff Jobe, CEO/Owner
Jobe Publishing, Inc.
Last week I had the opportunity to attend a wonderful play in Russell Springs, Kentucky. It was a musical that had me on edge the entire performance. I was invited by two former employees and friends of the Russell County Times-Journal. Both ladies, Shelby Maldonado and Cheyenne Smith, were absolutely wonderful.
It was my first time inside the Star Theater even though our newspaper property backs up to it because shortly after we assumed ownership we all went into a lock down with the Governor’s mandates. Whomever oversaw this renovation and raised funds to furnish it with the retractable floor risers should have their names engraved on a plaque somewhere. Without a doubt, this theater is the crown jewel for Russell Springs.
While there, I had the pleasure of speaking with another theater fan, Kyle Hadley. Kyle grew up in this theater and is now the head of Barn Lot Community Theater in Edmonton, Kentucky, and he is doing an amazing job.
Kyle has given the place an entire new outlook on community involvement and our Edmonton Herald-News management team, Jennifer Moonsong and Paula Martin, often speak of how he is appreciative of our coverage. It is a nice feeling to be appreciated, and it is nice seeing Kyle and his board give back to the community.
It is an exciting time for Glasgow Theater lovers because the Far Off Broadway Players will be performing a comedy called Four Weddings and Elvis at the beautiful Downtown Plaza Theater this weekend. Our fastest growing newspaper, The Barren County Progress, will have details of the play in this week’s issue, and I can’t wait to attend. It has been a long time since we have had an opportunity to see our friends perform inside the Plaza.
As a local publisher, I like to think I had a good idea of most everything’s value in our communities, but I am here to tell you that I had no clue at all how important these facilities are to the success of the counties they serve.
I have come to realize this because, about three years ago, I was feeling a bit lonely with being an empty nest dad, so I bought an old rundown building on the south side of Public Square in downtown Glasgow. I renovated the building, met a fella named Chris Lannan, and we designed our very own brewery. Chris is a talented brewmaster, and he has become a good friend.
In those early months, we would have good nights at the brewery and things were going fine, but when the Plaza would host a band or theater group our business would increase significantly. Local hotels would fill up, and every single downtown Glasgow restaurant came to life.
Things continued to go well, so I bought and renovated another building that houses a full stage and auditorium built in 1929. Our plan is to announce more of our own live performances in the next few weeks, including a dinner mystery theater, comedy shows, and bands. We can host crowds up to 180, which is more than double for what we can house inside the brewery but much smaller than my friend Carolyn Glodfeltner can host at the Plaza. Carolyn is the Executive Director at the Plaza, and she has announced a very aggressive schedule through the fall.
All Jobe Publishing newspapers are committed to help grow the eight counties in which we serve and always offer free marketing and advertising to any and all not-for-profit events to help bring life to every town in our region.
My sincere advice to all mayor and council members of all cities with vacant buildings is to do all you can to support and help fund bringing the arts to your Main Street or downtown squares. I also encourage you to make sure there are zoning ordinances in place and not be timid about assuring all buildings are maintained.
These downtown buildings are historical treasures and should be adequately maintained. No town should have boarded up or broken windows on their main streets or downtown squares.
Glasgow has had seventeen buildings change hands within one block of our downtown square in the past three years. Another dozen long time owners have painted their buildings. All it took was city leaders who had the vision to renovate our theater long ago, a few local entrepreneurs and a couple out-of-town property investors to take a chance combined with a mayor and city attorney not timid about allowing a single zoning department employee to do her job, and a volunteer board who appreciates the historical value of our downtown landscape.
It is indeed exciting to know that all it takes to jump start a community is a few people who care and are not afraid to go make it happen. Just imagine if all our small towns would wake up and bring life to the hidden historical beauty of downtown.
Jeff Jobe is founder and CEO of Jobe Publishing, Inc. His commentary reflects his personal views and does not reflect the views of personal or professional associations and affiliations. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his previously published commentary at www.sckentucky.com