The New Picture Show: Rewriting the Script in Champaign County

Gloria Theatre, Urbana, OhioYears ago, I saw “The Last Picture Show” for a college EnglishThe Last Picture Show class.

I can’t quote any of the film’s dialog. But I can still feel the sense of desolation that pulled the main characters adrift in their dying Texas town. Even their few escapes, like the pool hall and movie theater, were shutting down.

Urbana has a lot more going for it than the movie’s setting. Yet, we did see our own last picture show. That was when the Urbana Twin Cinemas closed about three and a half years ago.

Gloria Theatre Marquee, Urbana, Ohio

A new day at the Gloria Theatre in downtown Urbana.

I remember the downhearted dialog that followed, around town and on Facebook.

The Marquee Shines Again

But a story line far different than the one directed by Peter Bogdanovich began to unfold.

Here, a closed theater has come to symbolize something entirely different. Faith. Hope. Community spirit and self-determination.  Direction.

Now the marquee changes weekly announcing movies (including new releases), concerts, Christian revivals and youth retreats, stage productions and more. (A sampling of upcoming events is at the end of this post.)

Volunteers working at the Gloria Theatre, Urbana, Ohio

Volunteers set seats in place in the Gloria Theatre.

Theater Saved for the Community

The Urbana United Methodist Church bought the theater in 2014 to save it for the community. And to use the theater for the glory of God, resurrecting the movie house’s former name, the Gloria.

The nonprofit, community-based GrandWorks Foundation manages the Gloria Theatre and a campaign to complete the theater’s restoration as a community center to reach, restore and revive Champaign County culturally, socially, economically and spiritually.

Visit the Gloria Theatre website to learn about the foundation’s mission, vision and plans – and how you can support the theater to ensure a future of quality entertainment and cultural, social and spiritual events for Champaign County.

Volunteer and donate to the Gloria Theatre, Urbana, Ohio.

You can volunteer to work, make a donation or sponsor an event on this page of the Gloria Theater’s website.

How to Support the Gloria Theatre

  • Donate to the Foundation
  • Sponsor an event as a business, organization or individual
  • Volunteer at the theater, to sell tickets and concessions, clean up after events, and assist with ongoing renovations
  • Like the Gloria Theatre Facebook page to get the latest theater news and events in your feed
  • Share Gloria Theatre Facebook posts about upcoming events to spread the word
  • Attend events and invite your friends

A Sample of Coming Attractions at the Gloria

Movies

(Admission only $5! All proceeds support ongoing renovation. Shown with the Gloria’s new state-of-the-art 4K digital projection system,  Dolby® Surround 7.1 sound system and new 38-by-16-foot screen. Show times on the Gloria Theatre website.)

  • The American President: Feb. 17, 18, 19 & 20 (Presidents Day)
  • Magnificent Seven: March 3, 4 & 5
  • Trolls: March 10, 11 & 12
  • Rogue One: March 17, 18 & 19
  • Secret Life of Pets: March 24, 25 & 26
  • La La Land: March 31, April 1 & 2

Ignite 2017

Second annual Ignite youth conference, Feb. 24-26, where teens from the region will join together to “ignite” their faith in Christ. For details, visit the Ignite page on Facebook.

Godspell

The musical “Godspell” will be presented at the Gloria April 7, 8 & 9 by the Perennial Theatre Company of Urbana, Check the Perennial Theatre Facebook page for more.

Bonus Feature

And I hope you didn’t miss the January 14 McCartney Project concert. It was a fun trip back to the music of the Beatles and Wings – and a sign of great entertainment to come. Here’s a clip:

And That’s Not All, Folks…

As a Gloria Theatre volunteer, I wrote copy for a two-page section published December 23 in the Urbana Daily Citizen about the Gloria Theatre’s history and 75th anniversary: Page 1    Page 2

 

Winter Happenings at the Libraries of Champaign County

Winter’s the perfect time to settle in with a good book.

And libraries in Champaign County offer a variety of other ways to cope:

Champaign County Library, Urbana, OH, soup tasting

One of many crockpots of soup available at the annual Friends of the Library soup and bread tasting event. Beware: the soup goes fast.

Champaign County Library

Main Library (Main), 1060 Scioto St., Urbana, OH
North Lewisburg Branch (NL), 161 Winder St., North Lewisburg, OH

Kids Pizza Party & Movie, Jan. 16, Main – Here’s a way to spend part of the day off school — pizza and the movie “BFG,” starting at noon.

Soup and Bread Tasting, Jan. 21, Main – An annual treat of the Friends of the Library. Sample an array of delicious soups and breads. Free, but donations appreciated to support the Friends of the Library, which supports library programming. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. But get there early to make sure you don’t miss out.

Facebook for Beginners, Jan. 23, Main – A free program at 2 p.m. for those wanting to keep up with their friends on social media.

Lego Club, Jan. 23, Main – Kids build to their hearts’ content with Legos provided by the library, 6:30 p.m. 

Family Fun Night, Jan. 23, NL – A fun evening for kids of all ages and their families. Wintry stories, games, treats and more. 6:30 p.m.

Family Movie Night, Jan. 27 (Main) and 28 (NL) – Featuring the movie “Storks.” Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and movie starts at 6 p.m.

Genealogy and the Internet, Feb. 6, Main – learn how to research your family tree with library and online resources. Free at 2 p.m.

Mechanicsburg Public Library

60 S. Main St., Mechanicsburg, OH

Preschool Story Times, Jan. 18 & 25 – 11-11:45 a.m.

National Soup Month Celebration – Crafts and weekly drawings in January for prizes  – including a bowl of soup at The House Café and Bakery. Fill out a prize drawing entry and tell the librarians what they should put in the soup (think “Stone Soup”) they’ll be serving to library patrons Jan. 18, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. (Donations of ingredients are welcome and non-perishable extras will be donated to the local food pantry.)

St. Paris Public Library

127 E Main St., St. Paris, OH

No School Movie Day, Jan. 16 – “The Secret Life of Pets,” 10 a.m.

Toddler Storytime, Jan. 17, 24 & 31 – 9:30 a.m. Please call 937-663-4349 to attend.

Baby Bounce, Jan. 18 & 25 – 9:15 a.m. Please call 937-663-4349 to attend.

Preschool Storytime, Jan. 18 & 25 – 9:30 a.m. Please call 937-663-4349 to attend.

Knitting, Jan. 19 – All ages welcome, 1-4 p.m.

Kid Dimension/Teen Element, Jan. 19 – Featuring fabric art. Please call 937-663-4349 to attend.

Imagination Creation, Jan. 21 – Build Lego creations, all ages, 10:30 a.m.-noon.

What are your favorite library activities?

Celebrating Freedom on the Simon Kenton Trail

I celebrated Independence Day morning with freelance writing work and an eight-mile solo run on the Simon Kenton Trail.

Simon Kenton Trail extension, Urbana, Ohio

A tranquil scene by the Simon Kenton Trail, north of Urbana.

The run gave me time—lots of it since I’m not speedy—to think. For instance, about the direction of my freelance business-writing career. I want to narrow my focus to certain specialties and industries.

Plus I reflected on the gift of independence. Certainly, the freedoms we enjoy as Americans.  And the freedom that freelancing offers in defining your career.

And the freedom of just running (or walking or bicycling) along a trail, free of motorized traffic—and developed and maintained by an independent group of citizens, the Simon Kenton Pathfinders. Be sure to make the trail a part of your summer, if you haven’t already. And sign up to support the Pathfinders and trail in the 16th annual fund-raiser bike ride to be held Sunday, September 13.

Urbana Depot, Urbana, Ohio, on the Simon Kenton Trail

At the end of the run, I return to the Urbana Depot, my water stop.

I ran on the latest addition to the trail, which takes off from the restored Urbana Depot (home of the Depot Coffeehouse) and ends in Bellefontaine.

However, I turned around at the State Route 296 crossing. (I’m seriously considering running the full length, from Bellefontaine to the Depot this fall in lieu of registering for an organized half marathon. This has the makings for a good pictorial Champaign Uncorked! post.)

Fourth of July celebration at Grimes Field, Urbana, Ohio

A bi-plane awaits passengers as people in the background gather for the Phil Dirt and the Dozers concert during the Fourth of July celebration at Grimes Field airport.

Later in the day, I drove out to Grimes Field, which I had run past on the trail, to enjoy Urbana’s traditional July 4 celebration, complete with the Urbana Rotary Club’s barbecue chicken, for which I worked up a good appetite.

Urbana Rotary chicken barbecue at Grimes Field, Urbana, Ohio.

Urbana Rotarians barbecue chicken at the Grimes Field Fourth of July celebration.

 

Watch for upcoming July events in the next Champaign Uncorked! post later this week.

What upcoming events do you recommend?

Your Champaign Bucket List for November Fun and Giving Thanks

In this month of Thanksgiving, welcome to the third installment of the Champaign Uncorked! Bucket List. Here goes with a sampling of the ways to celebrate the season and the goodness Champaign County has to offer.

Celebrate the Season!

Holiday Open House in Urbana, Ohio's downtown Monument Square District.

A glimpse of The Boston’s window display for the Holiday Open House, Nov. 7-9, in Urbana’s Monument Square District..

 

Holiday Open House Weekend, Friday, Nov. 7-Sunday, Nov. 9 – Beat the hectic pace of Black Friday shopping. Support the local merchants of Urbana’s charming downtown Monument Square District and discover the one-of-kind presents and hospitality they keep in store. Downtown shops will be open Friday, Nov. 7, 10-8; Saturday, Nov. 8, 10-6; and Sunday, Nov. 9, 1-5.

And take a shopping break at one of downtown Urbana’s fine, locally owned restaurants. Check out Monument Square District’s Facebook page for updates on what stores have to offer.

Urban Loft Tour, Urbana, Ohio, featuring historic Monument Square DistrictUrban Loft Tour, Saturday, Nov. 8 Ever wonder what’s above the shops in downtown Urbana? Satisfy your curiosity while you’re downtown Nov. 8 for the Holiday Open House. The Champaign County Preservation Alliance (CCPA) will take you on a tour of the upper stories of seven downtown buildings, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The day of the tour, tickets will be available at the Stage Building, 38 Monument Square, and the Urbana Cinema/Gloria Theater, 216 S. Main St., which is on the tour Prior to that, tickets are available at the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce, Champaign Bank, Peoples Savings Bank, Perpetual Savings Bank and Security National Bank. The $12 ticket cost will support CCPA’s historic preservation work.

For more information, visit the Loft Tour pages of the CCPA’s Home and Garden Tour website.

Make a Gingerbread House at the Library, Saturday Nov. 22 – The Champaign County Library offers children two opportunities to decorate a gingerbread house:

  • At 10 a.m., hosted by the Friends of the North Lewisburg Branch Library, at 161 Winder St., North Lewisburg
  • At 2 p.m., hosted by the Friends of the Library at the main library at 1060 Scioto St., Urbana.

Register by Nov. 19 for either program by calling 937-653-3811.

Thanksgiving Morning Walk  The Champaign Family YMCA invites the community to meet outside the west entrance to the First Presbyterian Church, 116 W. Court St., Urbana, for a time of thanks and a short walk, which will begin at 8 a.m. Thanksgiving, Nov. 27. Paul Waldsmith, CEO of the Y, and Jennifer Post, health enhancement director, will lead the walk and offer participants their choice of a 15-minute walk route or a 1-mile route.  The walk will be held  no matter the weather.  Participants are asked to bring a non-perishable food item for local food pantries.  “This is not a competition, just a way to give back to our community,” Waldsmith explains. For more information, call the Y at 937-653-9622.
Community Thanksgiving dinners in Champaign County, Ohio

Photo Credit: timsackton via Compfight cc

Community Thanksgiving Dinners – Community members have three opportunities to give thanks by volunteering, donating food and enjoying Thanksgiving dinner together:

  • Caring Kitchen, at 300 Miami St., Urbana, Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 27,  needs volunteers and food donations for its annual Thanksgiving dinner for residents of the Urbana, Mechanicsburg, Triad and West Liberty-Salem school districts. Serving from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., with carryout and home delivery beginning at 10:30 a.m. Call 937-653-8443 by Nov. 15 to volunteer or make donations or by Nov. 24 to schedule a delivery. Individuals planning to dine in or pick up a meal also are encouraged to call ahead to ensure enough food is available. Meals will be delivered to the sheriff’s office and local police and fire departments.
  • Graham Elementary School, 9644 U.S. 36, St. Paris, Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 27 – community dinner, noon to 1:30 p.m., coordinated by the St. Paris Federation of Churches. Dine-in, carryout and delivery will be available. Call the St. Paris First Church of God at 937-663-4441 to request delivery or to volunteer to help prepare the meal, serve, deliver and clean up. Monetary and food donations are welcome.
  • Mechanicsburg Community Dinner, Saturday, Nov. 15, hosted by Mechanicsburg Exempted Village Schools, 60 High St., Mechanicsburg, in honor of Mechanicsburg’s bicentennial celebration. Guests are to arrive 5 to 5:30 p.m. in the Commons. Pow wow dancers will perform following the dinner. 

Details for these dinners are available on the Urbana Daily Citizen website.

Music in the Air

Veterans Day Dinner and Dance, Saturday, Nov. 8 – Amid historic aircraft and World War II memorabilia, this dinner and dance at the Champaign Aviation Museum, 1642 N. Main St., Urbana, will take you back to the days of USO dances. Featuring the Bob Gray Orchestra, this dinner and dance is presented by the Champaign County Arts County with support from the Champaign Memorial Foundation. Social hour begins at 5 p.m. and dinner at 6 p.m. with music and dancing to follow. Tickets $20. For information, contact the Arts Council, 119 Miami St., 937-653-7557. 

The Castros and Get in the Ark at Spotted Cow Coffeehouse, Saturday, Nov. 15 – Urbana’s newest coffeehouse, The Spotted Cow, at 927 N. Main St., will host these two popular Columbus indie folk bands in a free concert at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 15. In Columbus’ (614) Magazine ColumBest readers poll The Castros were voted Best Local Band in 2013 and runner up in 2012 and 2014.

Prior to this show, beginning at 4 p.m., local musicians Scott Patrick Knies, Tayler Carpenter, Mark Blair Glunt, Samantha Sanderson and Dylan Glunt will perform. The event also will feature poet Aiyana Marcus and the photography of Dave Millner. Carmazzi’s Corner will be the featured business. Food provided by Week of Hope.

Signs of Renewal in Champaign County

On my morning run today, I celebrated spring.

Browne Hall, Urbana University, Urbana, Ohio

Browne Hall at Urbana University

Everywhere, trees leafed and bloomed. Like the red bud that framed my view of old Browne Hall at the edge of the Urbana University campus.

Amidst the beauty of God’s creation, our community has been blessed this spring with opportunity for renewal and second chances.

Urbana University is a prime example – thanks to local banks and all who worked out the agreement announced this past week for Franklin University to buy the university.

UU has a renewed opportunity to serve students, enrich our community and energize the local economy – an estimated $30 million a year. Plus the new partnership offers the prospect for broadened impact.

Gloria Theater, Urbana, Ohio

A clear sign of renewal, with a reference to the past: the theater’s one-time name, The Gloria, named by Warren Grimes in tribute to his daughter Gloria.

My run also took me past the closed Urbana Twin Cinemas building. About 24 hours earlier I sat at a table in the theater lobby with several others. We worked on marketing and fundraising strategies for GrandWorks, a community initiative to transform the theater into a center for live and on-screen entertainment and other programming to drive cultural, social, economic and spiritual revival for the greater Champaign County community.

Visit the new GrandWorks website to learn more and support the project. (By the way, Urbana University is one of several community organizations involved in GrandWorks.)

At the end of my morning today, Jim Lillibridge, pastor of the Urbana United Methodist Church, shared in his message a bit of scripture (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10) that illuminated my on-the-run musings about what I see at work around us and what we’re called to do:

Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.

What signs of renewal and second chances do you see at work in the Champaign County, Ohio community?

The ‘On to Bellefontaine’ Challenge

I’m going to pick up with this post where I left off with the last – the fact that the Simon Kenton Trail bike path has proven to be a valuable asset for introducing bicyclists to Champaign County and Urbana, Ohio – from the south.

Now plans are under way to extend the trail so it also will serve as a gateway to Champaign County from the north.

Simon Kenton Pathfinders annual Ruth I. Bentley Memorial Ride

Berrie Bentley, at left, begins the Ruth I. Bentley Memorial Ride on Sunday.

Sunday’s annual Simon Kenton Pathfinders’ ride, the Ruth I. Bentley Memorial Ride, raised money toward the northward extension—first from the Urbana Station Depot on Miami Street to Urbana’s northern corporation limit by Grimes Field airport, then eventually to West Liberty and Bellefontaine.

Barrie Bentley of Dayton, the son of Mrs. Bentley, was one of the riders in Sunday’s fund-raiser. And just prior to the ride, he pledged to donate $1 for every $3 the Simon Kenton Pathfinders raise through June 1, 2011 – up to $20,000.

He’s calling his pledge the “On to Bellefontaine Challenge.”  And he’s making the challenge to honor the memory of his parents, Ruth I. and Alvie A. Bentley, who were cycling enthusiasts.

He explains, “The ‘On to Bellefontaine Challenge’ arises out of my desire to perpetuate and preserve the ‘can do’ spirit that my parents demonstrated throughout their lives…. They were a very dynamic team.

“I have seen this same ‘can do’ spirit in the collective actions of the Simon Kenton Pathfinders…. I am positive that the trail will be completed in the not too distant future.”

Nancy Lokai-Baldwin, president of the Simon Kenton Pathfinders, rides with her husband, Frank, in Urbana's Springfest Parade in May, in celebration of National Bike Month.

That “can do” spirit is clearly evident in Nancy Lokai-Balwin, Mr. Bentley’s cousin, and president of the Simon Kenton Pathfinders since she and other volunteers  founded the organization in 1997 with the vision to give old railroad beds a new purpose.

All monies raised by SKP, through June 1, will count toward Mr. Bentley’s pledge, including:

  • Money collected through fund-raisers. Watch the Pathfinders’ website for information about fund-raising events.
  • Honorary deeds sold by the Pathfinders at $5 per foot of the planned trail extension. Deeds will be on sale at a variety of events in the community.
  • Tax deductible contributions made to the Simon Kenton Pathfinders, P.O. Box 91, Urbana. SKP is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization.

Plus, you’re welcome to become a Pathfinder and attend meetings at 7 p.m. the first Thursday of each month in the Urbana Station Depot, 644 Miami St., in Urbana.