CLEARFIELD – Bob Knepp, owner of the Ritz Theater in downtown Clearfield, recently paid off a $30,000 “grant-to-loan” that was courtesy of the Clearfield Revitalization Corp. (CRC).
The CRC established the grant-to-loan program in Clearfield to help the theater and the “Save the Ritz” committee to procure their first digital projector with funds granted by the state Department of Community & Economic Development (DCED).
Through the CRC’s ingenuity, Knepp was able to purchase the projector, which was installed in May. The Ritz Theater is one of the first in Pennsylvania to receive this type of loan, and because of the program’s success, many theaters and communities across the state are now participating in the “grant-to-loan.” These funds will now be used to benefit the Clearfield community as a whole.
Chris Renaud, CRC director of planning and development, states, “It has been remarkable to watch our community come together to save a vital piece of Clearfield’s heritage. The CRC is extremely thankful that it has had the opportunity to assist the Ritz Theater and the ‘Save the Ritz’ committee in surviving through a difficult transition to digital technology.
“This is a problem facing theaters across the nation and the success of our community proves just how strong Clearfield truly is. This program will now allow the CRC to continue giving back to the people who have given so much to save the Ritz.”
When asked about his feelings about paying off the loan, Knepp stated, “It’s a nice relief that one (projector) is taken care of, and the CRC came through for us. [I have to say] thank you to the ‘Save The Ritz’ members for their hard work and the many hours they put into this and thanks to the community for its generosity. We can get movies so much easier. Thank you.”
The “Save the Ritz” committee was essential in raising the money to pay off the loan. The committee organized officially in June of 2013; in just over a year, its members witnessed the installation of the first projector.
Pam Babick, chair of the “Save the Ritz” committee, stated, “The committee worked extremely hard this year, and the members are thrilled to have the first projector in place. We owe our success to this community, its former residents and all who have helped. They have been very generous and loyal to our cause. This is a town that likes its heritage and wants to keep it.”
Knepp and the “Save the Ritz” committee are very happy to say “thank you” to the community with a free movie, “Grease,” this Sunday afternoon, at 2 p.m. on a first-come, first-serve basis. Moviegoers are encouraged to come dressed in the 1950’s style. Donations will be accepted and the money will be split with Clearfield Arts Studio Theatre (CAST).