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Columbian Theater - new life in the public schools

By Linda Waggener

An extraordinary gift was proposed, and given unanimous approval, at Thursday's Adair county school board meeting. This gift can provide Adair County Public school students the opportunity to be in the spotlight, developing presentation skills and confidence that will carry them into all areas of future careers.

The up front agreement calls for the School District to utilize grant money to become owners of the historic Columbian Theater, and for a project leader who coordinates the building and management program for the District which will involve all Adair students, Lindsey Wilson College students and the public to be able to utilize it.

The gift is possible because of three senior local leaders with expertise and assets in different areas, and all three with a heart for local culture, traditions and students who are the leaders of tomorrow:
James Douglas Beard, project director and presenter to the School Board - Adair County native who specialized in his career in global strategic communications, retired and moved back to Columbia to start his own business and make a difference;

Dr. Ben Arnold, owner of the historic building - Adair County native who enjoys a career in healthcare inventions and world travel who moved back to his home county to make a difference;

Dr. Pamela Stephens, Superintendent, a Russell County native from Columbia who specialized in a career in education and music and moved back to Columbia after retirement, then accepted the position as Superintendent of Adair County Public Schools - also to make a difference.
The dream was first discussed between Columbia UMC leaders Doug Beard, organist, and Dr. Stephens, music director. The dream was conceptualized over the following months, then over fall break it was finalized in discussions with Columbian theater owner Dr. Arnold At a table by the fountain he built for the city, in the theater corner of the public square.

Superintendent Stephens said the board, students faculty and staff are grateful to Dr. Arnold for this opportunity of leasing and then gifting the Columbian Theatre to the Adair County School District. Grant monies will be sought to operate the theatre, applications will be processed starting now.

The Columbian Theater goal will first be to work with Adair County students, then Lindsey Wilson College students and then the community and surrounding counties who may need to rent the Theater.

More information will be available as work begins to open up the building to the public after several years without activity except for restoration and maintenance.

This story was posted on 2021-10-25 14:40:56
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Columbian Theater will reopen by School District

2021-10-25 - Downtown Columbia, KY - Photo by Pen.
An archive photo of the Columbian Theater sign, taken back in March 2008. Plans have been announced for the Adair County School District to use grant money to become owners of the historic building, and for a project leader who coordinates the building and management program for the District. The hope is to eventually involve all Adair students, Lindsey Wilson College students and the public in using the buliding.

Built in 1947, the theater is home to one of the largest screens in southern Kentucky. The iconic lights have been dark for several years now, but back in the Spring of 2008, the theater was showing "Rambo" and "The Bucket List."

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