By Nancy McGill
The Arts Council of Thayer County’s first movie for the public was “Lincoln” with Daniel-Day Lewis after the council had organized in 2012 to keep the theater open as it transitioned to a digital format.
As volunteers work to open a second cinema, the first is also going through an upgrade to welcome viewers in wheelchairs.
“We had spaces for six wheelchairs with two to four down in front and two more in the back,” ACT board member, Lloyd Van Cleef said of the 140-seat cinema.
“Throughout the learning process of doing this, we thought if we build a flat surface in the back with a ramp, people would like it much better,” his wife, Marion, also a board member, said.
The new seating area for wheelchairs will also be carpeted, Marion said.
Work on the second cinema began last fall with repairs to the outside of the building, which needed a paint job and insulation for heat and air efficiency. Repairs also stopped leaks.
Once the outside was taken care of, volunteers focused on the inside of the second cinema.
A free standing wall between the two cinemas locks the sound in for each. Speakers will be mounted on the walls and a special sound system is planned for the second cinema for events.
“So actually, our next step will be to take the screen down and put the stage in,” Marion said.
The stage will extend 12 feet from the back of the cinema, and will be available for public events.
As for the seats, ACT already has them in stock from an Omaha theater, which also adopted the Majestic name.
“We are now in the process of cleaning all those seats,” Lloyd said.
Marion said the first time around on the seats had no shortage of volunteers.
“We had 20 people putting the seats together. They come in pieces and we assembled them in the evenings,” she said about the first cinema.
There are 40 to 50 volunteers and 16 members on the ACT board of directors. Most of the volunteers are from Hebron, however, Lloyd said the volunteers represent almost every town in Thayer County, and they work in groups like Cargill. Soon the American Legion riders will join for a night at the movies to take tickets and serve popcorn.
“We have lots of volunteers who want to help,” Lloyd said about Don Gallagher, who painted the first cinema floor and has committed to the second floor. Or Eric Hopken’s help with cleaning the popcorn and butter machines.
Groups working movie nights flow, Marion said.
“They all figure out what job they want and just do it,” she said.
Movies are shown Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, and twice on Sundays in the afternoon and evening.
The ACT board, which meets monthly, is thrilled the second cinema is closer to being finished.
“It really gives you a good feeling,” Marion said. “It’s amazing how well 16 people can get along for three years.”
While they haven’t raised the funds for the $50,000 digital projector, Lloyd said the renovation will be complete when the funds are raised.
“So when we do get the projector, we’ll be in business,” he said.
For more information on the Majestic Theatre and its history, visit hebronmajestic.com or the Majestic Theatre in Hebron Facebook page.