Greensburg's new movie theater is about a year away, thanks in part to the influence of a Wichita businessman.
Bill Warren has played a key role in equipping and designing the new downtown Twilight Theatre, a $2.7 million project slated to open in May 2012, the fifth anniversary of the tornado that destroyed the city.
"If not for Bill's involvement, general direction and introductions, this theater wouldn't ever be possible on this level," said Gary Goodman, the theater board member heading the project.
"Without Mr. Warren's guidance, we'd still be moving forward with the theater project, but things would be moving along much more slowly," said Kim McMurry, a teacher at Kiowa County High School and vice chair of the theater board.
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Warren contributed seats from his theater renovations to the project and brokered introductions for the board with several theater sound, video and screen vendors at the National Association of Theatre Owners convention last month in Las Vegas.
"It's a small world," Goodman said. "We sat down with an official from JBL to give our spiel, and he said, 'I've heard enough. I married a Coldwater girl in the Greensburg Catholic Church. What can I do to help?' "
Warren contributed the expertise of his building team — architect Ron Spangenberg and Ken Crockett and Bill Menke from Warren's development staff.
"It all begins with the tragedy four years ago," Warren said. "I'm really proud of the work Ron and my architects have done coming up with what I think is a really nice facility.
"Maybe we realize that theaters can be a very important part of a small town, an anchor of sorts and another step toward rebuilding.
"And if you can't step forward and do something good, then what good are you?"