LACIE SILVA – Editor
In culmination of several challenges within the community, Scott Bernett, a new resident of South Pittsburg from Vancouver, Washington, spoke at the October 10, South Pittsburg city meeting addressing the board and community.
Bernett relayed his first experience to this city as an “eye-opening, heart pounding, wonderful thing.” He explained his desire to relocate was primarily rooted in having found a place that aligned with his ideals and beliefs. Recounting his 20 years of service as a police officer for Vancouver, Bernett detailed that he watched as his city grew exponentially. He witnessed the growing pains in the conflicts and internal politics across all departments of the city and is starting to see the same developments in South Pittsburg. Furthermore, he believes that within five years, much of the city of South Pittsburg will be unrecognizable to its natural citizens.
Instead of fighting against the changes and developments, Bernett stated that the community should embrace it. “If you embrace it, this city has so much potential, but you can’t see it because you’re living here.” Bernett expressed drawing a parallel similar to not being able to see the trees from the forest.
He explained that his initial meeting was with the Mayor at the Princess Theatre, during which he questioned the theater’s ownership. Bernett went on to suggest that the Princess had the potential to achieve the same level of greatness as The Oldham Theatre in Winchester.
From an outsider’s perspective he expressed his belief that internal politics, personal bias, and more is getting in the way of progress and the reverence of the Princess Theatre gaining notoriety in history. He further asserted that if the goal is focused on the community, supporting community driven activities, the funds to support the theatre will follow. In particular, Bernett highlighted that he had personally observed an increase in activities and community support after 22Visionz management team took over.
The surge in performances, movies, and even an internship for high school students, are a shining tribute to enhancing community involvement and expanded activities. The internship for students interested in the arts gives first hand experience in their field of interest in a way that many could only dream of. However, there was not enough promotion of the events for the performances and movies. Bernett cited that in Nashville, Chattanooga, and Winchester the Mario movie was a massive hit and it should have been at the Princess as well. However, the promotion was not on the marquee, as a result he stated that the Princess was and continues to be held back in garnering revenue.
Bernett questioned why the board wouldn’t want to support the community, keep 22Visionz as the management team, and allow them to properly advertise their events. Moreover, Bernett said that the theatre is the keystone of the city and questioned if any other place brought in the revenue possible as that of the Princess. Many affirmed that the Princess allowed the rest of the businesses in the area to flourish and see a wave of profits surrounding events.
Furthermore, Bernett encouraged the board, 22Visionz, and Marion County 4-H Performing Arts program to find a way to continue the plays at the Princess Theatre. In his expressed opinion the plays are a necessary part of the community as much as the addition of the internship by 22Visionz.
Summarizing his comments and perspective, Bernett stated, “The most important aspect of this community are the children.” He recommended putting all personal bias aside and putting the children and the community first. He finalized his comments by stating, “If that’s your revenue generator, work together.”
The Marion Tribune – October 26, 2023