MONROE, La. — The Office of the Louisiana State Fire Marshall gave his stamp of approval to the West Carroll Chamber of Commerce’s Operation 2012 Project to restore the Fiske Theatre in Oak Grove, La., Thursday at his satellite office in Monroe, La. clearing the way for the project to start once the bid selection and fund raising portions of the project are complete.
“This is a step in the right direction, “ W.C. Chamber President H. Doug Ainsworth said. “We knew going in that we had to have the fire marshall’s approval before we could begin actual work on the project. Now that this hurdle has been completed, everything is on go to begin the project hopefully at the end of July/first part of August.”
The State Fire Marshall’s approval of the project was necessary due to changing the seating layout of the theatre and the reduction of its seating capacity due to the new seats being larger than those that were installed in the theatre in 1950.
Under the new seating layout, the seating capacity of the theatre will be reduced from its current capacity of 653 to 524. By reducing the seating capacity, the area between seats will be widened from 20 inches to 35 inches which will allow for more comfort and leg room for movie goers. The new seats will also be about 4 inches wider and will feature cup holders. The new layout also features eight reserved assessable seating areas with permanent companion seats that will be located in the center of the auditorium rather than those with disabilities being segregated to the rear aisle of the auditorium.
The Fire Marshall also approved the Chamber and Holland Entertainment’s plans to continue to occupy and operate the theatre during the construction phase of the project.
“In its initial writing on the project, the Fire Marshall’s office had said occupation of the theatre would not be permitted until the project was complete, and he had signed a completion certificate which caused us some concern,” Adam Holland, President of Holland Entertainment which operates the theatre for the chamber said. “However his approval letter is quoted as saying, ‘It shall not be the intent of this office to prevent operation of the theatre during phases of the renovation work as long as our conditions are followed.’ which means normal operation of the theatre will continue uninterrupted.”
During the construction phase of the project the theatre will operate out of the balcony and movies will continue as scheduled.
To date the fundraising tally is at $23,228 which is just only $6,772 away from its goal of $30,000 which will allow for all of the committee’s charge to be completed. To make a donation contact John Elliott at Regions Bank (318-428-9626) or Robyn Creech at 318-282-9996.
The Fiske Theatre is owned by the West Carroll Chamber of Commerce and operated by Holland Entertainment, LLC of Oak Grove. All funds raised will be used for theatre restoration and project books are available for review upon request.