Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

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The Garden Theater

Rick Coates - October 19th, 2009
The Garden Theater Blossoms

By Rick Coates 10/19/09

Rick Schmitt chuckles every time he is asked if he and his partners were inspired to buy and renovate the Garden Theater in Frankfort because of the success of the State Theatre in Traverse City.
“There is this assumption that we saw what had happened in Traverse City and decided to do the same thing here in Frankfort,” said Schmitt. “But we actually started this process before they did.”
Schmitt, a Frankfort resident and vice president of sales and marketing at Crystal Mountain Resort & Spa, purchased the Garden Theater with his wife Jennie and Blake and Marci Brooks about two years ago.
“We took ownership 18 months ago, but we started the process over five years ago,” said Schmitt. “It all started one winter night at a dinner party and everyone was talking about how great it would be to go out to the movies right here in town.”
The Garden Theater opened in downtown Frankfort in 1923 and has remained opened since, but over the past 20 years the building had fallen into disrepair. When the heating system gave way eight years ago the previous owners closed in the winter months.
“It took three and a half years of negotia-tions between us and the previous owners to finally reach an agreement,” said Schmitt. “While we own it our model is similar to that of a non-profit operation and in many ways the community is the real owners. In fact we formed a little company and sold shares to members in the community, both summer and year-round residents who shared our vision of having a theater in our community showing first-run films. This gave us the initial capital to keep the theater open and to repair it.”

What really caught Schmitt and his partners off guard was the generosity of others in the community who stepped up to be of assistance.
“When we took over the theater we had some major issues like the lack of a heating/cooling system, seats in poor condition and a terrible sound system,” said Schmitt. “Well, a group of citizens -- all retired -- heard what we are doing and walked in and donated the money for a state-of-the-art sound system. Others in the community organized a chair campaign and sold sponsorship for seats and raised enough to replace all 320 chairs.
“We were able to add a state of the art heating and cooling system that is able to determine the number of people in the theater by measuring the CO2 and being able to adjust the climate based on that,” Schmitt adds. “Because the theater was not taken care of over the past 20 years there had been a lot of water damage to the art deco ceiling tiles. We figure we would just clean it and paint over it for the time being and at some later date we would restore the art deco look. Well, artists from our community heard about this and they would have no such thing. They spent hundreds of hours painting these tiles and restoring them to their original look.”
For Schmitt and the others they have accomplished their goal and for the first time in years first-run films are showing in Benzie County.
“We will not be open every day during the winter, but definitely on the weekends and occasionally we will be open on Thursday nights for a classic film,” said Schmitt.
The impact has already been felt in Frankfort.
“Just having the marquee lights on all the time has made a big difference,” said Schmitt. “We have some restaurants and shops keeping longer hours now.”

The Garden Theater employs four people and received an economic development grant for job creation. Schmitt believes that the Theater is also having a positive impact on other businesses adding jobs.
So, have they heard from Michael Moore and others from the State Theatre and the Traverse City Film Festival?
“Yes, they are very supportive. We have met with Film Festival manager Deb Lake a couple of times and there is a possibility in the future if they expand the festival beyond Traverse City that we would be part of the mix,” said Schmitt. “But here is an interesting connection: Turns out Michael Fitzhugh the architect behind the State Theatre restoration grew up in Frankfort. When he heard about our project he called us and told us he used to go to movies here as a kid and wanted to help. He provided his services pro bono to us.”
Another similarity to the State Theatre is, this weekend, they will host the inaugural Garden Theater International Film Festival.
“We will show eight films that were winners at various film festivals this past year,” said Schmitt. “Again the community has jumped on the bandwagon for this. We have people coming by with thank you letters and sponsor checks. We have sold quite a few weekend viewing passes. We also will offer the films ala carte.”
As for the future, Schmitt says the next step will be to renovate the stage.
“We had the Interlochen Jazz Ensemble in this past summer and it was a big hit. We want to repair our stage and offer Community Theater and musical performances year-round. Hopefully that will happen soon. In the meantime we will continue to focus on our mission of to screen exceptional cinema offerings in addition to first run films.”

To learn more about the Garden Theater go to frankfortgardentheater.com

Garden Theater
International Film Festival

October 23-25:
Adam - directed by Max Mayer. Comedy/ drama about a man with Asberger’s Syndrome and the woman of his dreams
Adventureland - directed by Greg Mottola. A coming of age story about a college student who accidentally ends up with the carnival job from hell.
Away We Go - directed by Sam Mendes. A couple expecting their first child travel around the U.S. looking for the perfect place to start their family.
The Commandant - directed by Stephen Pell. WWII Russian soldiers are trapped in a cabin with their commanding officer, who is badly injured.
The Dinner - directed by Karchi Pelrmann. A wry tale of a hapless pig farmer whose minor domestic accident turns into an unexpected catastrophe.
Man On A Wire - directed by James Marsh. Documentary about Phillipe Pettit, who walked across a cable between World Trade Center Towers on August 7, 1974.
Seraphine - directed by Martin Provost. Drama about the artist Séraphine.
Trouble the Water - directed by Carl Deal and Tia Lessin. The story of aspiring rap artist Kimberly Rivers Roberts and her husband who were trapped in New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina.

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