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The Marshalltown Orpheum

July 25, 2013
By John Speer ( , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

When Iowa Valley tucked the bail-out of Marshalltown's Orpheum Theatre into a $35 million bond issue in 2006, its wisdom was questioned on these pages more than once.

The beleaguered Orpheum project had bogged down, Marshalltown couldn't or wouldn't finance restoring the downtown movie house and the work had lingered for years.

Along came the scheme to rescue the Orpheum. It fell, to the tune of $3 million-plus, right in the pockets of Community?College?District property taxpayers. Note South Tama County voters narrowly rejected the bond issue, but the majority of the district, with community colleges and projects in Grinnell, Iowa Falls and, of course Marshalltown, assured passage.

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The Orpheum was billed as an educational venue.

It seemed more than a bit curious to at least some taxpayers who watched when it opened with red carpets, ushers in period uniforms and a government coffee shop to compete with private business rolled out.

It should come as no surprise to anyone the Orpheum is costing money - a lot of money, as reported.

Now we have learned "invited community members" were to attend a meeting on Monday, July 22, concerning possible adjustments to what's going on at the theatre.

While the efforts of the board and college leadership to rectify the problems of the Orpheum are needed, full disclosure of what's going on is not only deserved, but vital.

-J. Speer



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