Appalachian Regional Commission Funds Pair of Smyth Projects | Community
Stephanie Porter-Nichols | Smyth County News and Messenger
Once celebrated as a movie palace, Marion’s Lincoln Theater is about to claim that moniker again. The news announcement that shared this good news also announced that the Saltville Library is receiving the funds to help find a new home.
On Thursday, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin announced 18 projects he recommends for the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) fund. The two Smyth County projects were among 18.
Youngkin recommended that Smyth County be given $80,000 “to analyze the spatial requirements for a new and expanded Saltville Library, including cost estimates and a recommended location for improved facility design.”
On Thursday, Rose Likins, director of the Smyth County Public Library, said, “I’m beyond thrilled this project has been approved!
The County Board of Supervisors has already agreed to provide $15,000 to help meet the matching requirement for this planning grant. The library should raise $5,000.
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Likins said: “The project will assess the current building for possible renovation or expansion or identify alternative solutions.” She explained, “We won’t be doing any actual construction with this money, but this is the first important step towards a better facility for Saltville.”
However, with that money for the study and analysis, County Administrator Shawn Utt said enough groundwork would be done to help the library secure even more funding if it later applies for a grant from construction. He thinks that price will be “just the tip of the iceberg”.
Youngkin also recommends a $69,025 award for the Lincoln Theater technology and film project.
According to the press release from the governor’s office, “This project will digitally expand the Lincoln Theater by providing digital shows and screening movies and films. This project will create 3.5 full-time equivalent positions, as well as additional training opportunities for part-time staff and regional students to obtain full-time employment in technology, digital media and/or film.
In January, Tracy Thompson, executive director of the Lincoln, told the county board of supervisors that, if granted, the grant would allow the theater to install a large retractable screen, surround sound speakers and digital projection. Additionally, she said, the request is for funds to add an outdoor screen, outdoor speakers and a portable projector so the Lincoln can use Hurricane Alley for outdoor events or show activity. taking place on stage to people outside. The ability to stream live events would be included.
The proposal also includes an upgrade to the theater’s main street marquee. Earlier this year, Thompson said the Lincoln administration wanted to retain much of the marquee, which is not original but has historical value. Where now the theater can manually change the messages, an LED screen would be inserted. Thompson said the screen would not only be used to promote events at the Lincoln, but could also serve as a community notice board.
At the time, Thompson said she would ask for $200,000.
The supervisors unanimously agreed to accompany the application with a letter of support.
A draft letter said the addition of movies to the Lincoln was “extremely needed in a county that currently has no indoor movie theaters.” The letter went on to say, “This will create jobs and boost local businesses by attracting a more diverse audience to our area…. We anticipate a movie component to expand opportunities, such as local diners and movie nights with a rotation of local restaurants and The Lincoln.
“To succeed as a cinema,” the letter of support said, “The Lincoln must invest in specialized equipment.”
To help bolster The Lincoln, Utt noted that supervisors increased its funding by $5,000 for the fiscal year that began Friday.
“On behalf of the Lincoln Theater Board of Trustees, I am delighted that our technology and film project has been recommended for funding…. The Lincoln Theater began as a movie palace and we are now beginning the process of returning to our roots. For historic venues with a strong performing arts program, special film events and film series play an important supporting role. Being able to once again offer films on the big screen with surround sound will be a tremendous cultural asset to Marion and our community,” Thompson said Thursday evening.
Utt was also pleased with the federal investment, noting his love of the arts and their value to community life.
The 18 recommended projects totaled $8.6 million in grants. The Appalachian region of Virginia comprises 25 counties and eight independent cities. ARC is expected to finalize approval of these project grants later this year.
“These 18 projects represent the innovation and strong entrepreneurial spirit of the Appalachian region, and I am thrilled to see these projects succeed in helping these communities thrive,” Youngkin said in the release. “With this investment through the Appalachian Regional Commission, Appalachian communities will not only benefit from vital improvements in the quality of life, but also economic opportunities that will help create better jobs and stronger economies. In the region.”
“Appalachia’s economies have been hit hard, both by the COVID-19 pandemic and the downturn in the coal industry, and investing in our Appalachian region is critical,” the Commerce Secretary said. and in Commerce, Caren Merrick. “Many of these projects will provide essential and targeted assistance in areas identified by the community, ranging from improving water supply systems and workforce development to creating entrepreneurial ecosystems and improving broadband access, giving Appalachian communities the tools they need to thrive.”
Established in 1965, the ARC is a federal agency focused on economic development throughout the Appalachian region.
Youngkin nodded $1,000,000 each to neighboring Wythe and Tazewell counties.
In Tazewell County, the project “would provide adequate water and sewer service to a new aquaculture venture, Pure Salmon Virginia LLC, support a total of 218 new jobs, and leverage $358.8 million in private investment.” dollars through the construction of an off-site water and sewer system system improvements.
In Wythe County, the money would be used to “expand sewage service capacity at the construction site of a nitrile manufacturing plant in Progress Park. This facility will employ approximately 2,500 people (200 in the first 18 months), and this increased sewage service capacity will reduce the need for a new sewage treatment plant in the county.
The Southwest Regional Recreation Authority (SRRA) received $100,000 to “create a long-term vision for the organization, including an economic impact study, business plan, marketing plan, and strategic plan.” SRRA will use the products of this project to pilot future ARC implementation projects. »