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Rex proposal outlined for community


January 16, 2020

Miriah Kardelis

WORKING GROUP - Charlie Munday and Eric Wilson (standing center) talk to community members about the plan for shareholders to purchase the Rex Theater in Thompson Falls.

Community members gathered at the Clark Fork Valley Elks Lodge in Thompson Falls last Thursday to hear a proposal to save a beloved icon - the Rex Theater. With around 20 people in attendance, several representatives of the Rex Working Group presented their plans on how they intend to take on the challenging endeavor that lies ahead of them.

Among the representatives were Charlie Munday, chair of the advisory board and Eric Wilson, one of the lead officers of the Limited Liability Company (LLC); and Debbie Wilson, another member of the advisory board.

Founded in August 2019, "the Rex Working Group has changed over time, but the goal has always been the same; and that is to save the Rex," Munday stated. He wanted to accentuate to the attendees of the meeting, "this is a community endeavor. No one person, or business represents this effort. Rexie, the mascot, is the only representative there is who will be representing us."

The group explained that there are three phases to this project. The first phase is to purchase the building from the current owners, Doug and Karen Grimm, with the asking price of $130,000. Munday stated, "the first phase is to raise $135,000 for the purchase of the building, and any other miscellaneous things we need."

The second phase is to equip the theater with a new sound system and a new projection system. According to Eric Wilson, "there is no way to show current movies with the old film type. They have to go digital, which gets costly." Wilson, who has a background in the movie theater business, has seen the good a small movie theater can do in a rural town. "This community, the businesses and the people in it, are what is important to me. It takes a community to keep things going, and I'm going to do everything I can to keep it going."

The third phase of the project would be the opening, setting up the staff and stocking inventory. While there are possible grants out there the group is pursuing, their goal right now is to get the first phase up and running.

The estimated price for all the renovations is around $120,000. Munday said the mold remediation has come in right at $37,000. The estimate for the heating and air is around $60,000, and to update the electrical will be about $20,000. A total estimate with the purchase of the building included, has come to right around $350,000, he said.

As specified by Munday, the Rex Theater will be owned by the LLC partners. "Not one person, not one business. It will be a partnership of all the investors." The partnership of investors will be governed by the operating agreement and a board that will be voted on in the future.

The opening of the Rex Theater would bring plenty of employment and entertainment opportunities to the community. "I've been in there for a couple of the events, and you want to be able to see those kids get up there and dance and sing. I don't want to see that go away, that's where my heart is at," Munday expressed.

Anyone who would like to help with this effort will be making an investment in the LLC. "You will be making an investment, that in time, will possibly pay back," Munday said. "We all know what investments are, OK? To be straightforward, if you think this is something that's going to be paying you back, it won't be for quite some time. This is an altruistic endeavor."

"This is to keep our kids on the stage, to be able to provide employment opportunities to the community, and to provide an entertainment venue so we don't' have to drive to Missoula, Sandpoint or Libby," Debbie said.

The Grimms bought the theater because it's where they had their first date. The Rex Working Group expressed their desire to give local children something to do, a place to socialize with their friends, or even go on their very first date. "There's no place for them to go and let go of their energy. And kids, as we all know, have energy," Munday said. "They need a place like this theater. A place they can go do their dances, their plays and everything they love."

The Grimms, who have been working with the group to keep this project afloat, are selling simply because this undertaking is just too big for them anymore. Munday told the attendees, "this town owes them a debt of gratitude for preserving the Rex to this point, but it's too much to keep going. This is our chance as a community to come together and put something out there that we can all enjoy."

The group is working against a strict deadline. While there is no current buy-sell in place, the Grimms have given the board of representatives a May 2020 deadline, with a clear promise that the Rex Working Group's intentions are to keep the Rex as it is. "We made it very clear to Doug and Karen, that is our intent. To keep the Rex as it is, upgrade it, run it," Debbie said.

A concern voiced by attendees was if there would be any liability for the shareholders. According to Debbie, "there is no liability for investors, should something happen financially or accident wise. You might not get your $1,000 back, that's your liability," she chuckled, as did the rest of the attendees.

Many of the locals who attended the public meeting have fond memories of the Rex movie theater when they were kids. They would like their children and grandchildren to have the same opportunities, to be able to create those memories. Munday stated, "this is a passion project, I'd hate this town to lose it."

The Rex Community Theater Facebook page is going to be the first place to get up to date information, according to the group. The second place, Debbie said, will be the community calendar in The Ledger. If you would like more information on the project or if you would like to donate or become a shareholder, contact the group at [email protected]


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