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Will Local Group Save Theatre?

Time is running out for a local group trying to save the Garman Theatre.
BELLEFONTE, CENTRE COUNTY - Time is running out for a local group trying to save the Garman Theatre.

A Centre County judge gave the Bellefonte Historical and Cultural Association 60 days to come up with a plan for the revitalization of the Garman Theatre.

Their 60 days is up next week.

The group says they're not ready to give up just yet, and say they're pretty comfortable with their plan they will present to the judge Monday.

JoAnn Knupp is trying to have some faith.

"It would be our hope that the judge will say, 'Okay BHCA, do your thing.' We dont' want those buildings torn down and we don't want vacant lots," she said.

Monday, Judge Thomas Kistler will decide the fate of the Garman Theatre, the place JoAnn and her fellow Bellefonte Historical and Cultural Association members have been trying to save.

"The main idea is to have a regional arts center when it's all said and done," JoAnn said.

The fight to save the Garman hasn't been easy. Since we last talked with JoAnn, BHCA has raised about $5,000 more dollars and gotten several pledges. Now, the group is looking for a partner.

"A corporation can partner with a non-profit to preserve a historic building, JoAnn said. "That fits us perfectly."

Governor Tom Corbett signed a bill on July 2, making Pennsylvania the 30th state to have a State Historic Tax Credit.

Under the act, a for-profit company can receive a 25% tax credit to rehabilitate a historic structure in the state.

JoAnn says she's already had interest.

Bellefonte Borough Manager Ralph Stewart says under this act, the judge may only have a few options to take.

"Approve the plan, deny the plan, or amend the plan that was presented," he said.

JoAnn says she'll fight until the end, but will it be enough to convince the judge?

"Everybody say a prayer for us. That's all I can say," she said.

A call to the developer interested in the Garman Theatre site was not returned Wednesday afternoon.

The hearing will start Monday morning at 10 in the Centre County Courthouse.
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