Coulee Dam theater subject of hope


A Grand Coulee woman offered last week to help Coulee Dam work on getting the former Village Cinema up and running.

Kimberly Christensen and her husband, Michael, who started their Coulee Kettle Corn business a year ago, moved to the area eight years ago. The coulee was new to her, but he was raised in the area, she said.

Now she just wants to help improve things if she can, she offered, and Coulee Dam is the town that holds two areas of concern: the closed movie theater and the closed swimming pool, both owned by the town.

Christensen said she had recently taken a grant-writing course and had spent about eight hours earlier in the day researching possible grant funding for the theater.

She said an acquaintance’s recent poll taken on Facebook got a 97-percent favorable response to the idea of reopening the theater.

“I thought it would be a win-win,” she said. “I have a popcorn company. I like to sell popcorn. We need something for the folks to do.”

“I think we all would like to see the theater opened,” commented Mayor Pro Tempore Bob Poch. “It would be nice to have a little bit of revenue coming in from it. It’s just a matter of finding somebody willing to do it.”

Christensen said she would be willing to help by writing a grant to upgrade the equipment and possibly by managing the theater.

Birdie Hensley, who chairs a local economic development committee, said the equipment needed to upgrade the theater to now-required digital equipment would cost about $15,000, not the $30,000 or more talked about several years ago.

She said they had done some research and also reached out to an Okanogan County economic development agency that is also willing to help.

“If we can find somebody interested in the city and everybody, as a group, works together,” Hensley said, “I think we can swing it with nobody having to come with a lot of bucks. … We need to work it without putting a financial burden on any of the entities.”

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“I see this as a very, very good start,” Poch said.

He asked Christensen to arrange in the next few days for a walk-through of the building, which needs some improvements.

Christensen also asked about reviving the pool, but got more pushback on that.

“The last time it was open, it was $22,500 for a three-month run in the summer,” Poch said. And now regulations require more employees. “We need to be a little realistic about that pool.”

Poch noted that the community came together with donations to help one year when a citizens’ committee pushed for it, “but it only lasted one year.”

What was basically a community-wide pool fell to Coulee Dam to fund, Poch and others at the meeting noted.


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