PRINCESS THEATRE - Raising the Curtain: July 2009

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Knoxville Mayor, and Republican Candidate for Tennessee Governor in 2010, Bill Haslam came to Harriman today to show his support for the Princess Theater Project. There is no doubt that the important first step in reviving a community is bringing entertainment to the people,” Haslam stated. As one of the leaders in bringing the Tennessee and Bijou Theaters back to Knoxville, he saw first hand how their entertainment value brought people back to the streets. When the people come back to the streets, businesses come back,” he explained.

Mayor Haslam was impressed with how much the leaders of Harriman and Roane County are behind the project. He was even more struck by the community leaders’ plans to incorporate the restoration of the Princess Theater into education. Dr. Toni McGriff, Director of Roane County Schools and Danice Turpin, Director of the Tennessee Technology Center, both explained how the “arts center” would immediately be utilized by all schools in Roane and surrounding counties.

Dr. McGriff pointed out that most of the area’s schools have arts programs, but their productions are often shown in cramped lunchrooms, or libraries. Having a venue like the Princess Theater would allow these programs to expand and to be seen and enjoyed by the entire community. People would again walk the streets of Harriman, and, with the people, would come new businesses, and a new reason to take pride in ourselves.

Haslam understands that better education is the door to a better future. Troubled by low high school graduation rates, he was the founding Chairman of the Board of “Project GRAD,” the mission of which is to "ensure a quality public school education for all at-risk children in economically disadvantaged communities so that high school graduation rates increase and graduates are prepared to enter and be successful in college."

Gary Baker explained how the Princess Restoration Committee has raised enough money to cover the reconstruction or the Princess complex roof and upgrade the buildings’ HVAC system, which would stabilize the building environment. A total of 2.1 million dollars would be needed for the complete restoration as outlined in the project plans.

Haslam offered his support by offering contact names of those that worked successfully on the Tennessee and Bijou projects, and pledged to support any project proposal submitted to him as the future Governor of Tennessee. He seemed well aware that any money invested in the Princess Theater would be money invested in the long-term well being of Roane County.

Restoration Committee Board members Bill Landry, Gary Baker, Bill Newcomb, and Linda Raby, were on hand to show their support. Other interested community leaders and supporters like Leslie Henderson, Ken Yeager, Chase Tedder, Ken Mynatt, and Doctors Alher, Williams, and Cunningham came to show Haslam the community’s support and solidarity for the project. Others in attendance were “Buddy” Bowers, Chris Alher, Margo Alher, Claudette Baker, Brooks Benjamin, Eva Bullens, Janice Black, as well as Princess Productions staff members Sandra Hooks, Jean Penley, Wilma Mullins, Jake Stafford, Doug Mills, and Paul Mashburn.

Following the meeting, Mayor Haslam was interviewed by Bill Landry in front of the Princess Theater. He again explained his understanding and support of the Princess Restoration Project, and what the completion of the project would mean to Roane County.

Monday, July 6, 2009


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