Elizabethton City Council to consider ARC grant for Bonnie Kate

John Thompson • Nov 13, 2019 at 9:41 PM

ELIZABETHTON – One of the highlights of tonight’s meeting of the Elizabethton City Council could be an application for an Appalachian Regional Commission grant for $500,000.

These ARC grants are usually for infrastructure improvements to water lines or other expensive construction projects, but the grant being considered tonight is for continued renovations to the Bonnie Kate Theater.

The requested amount of the grant is $500,000. Such a federal grant requires a 30 percent matching grant from “at-risk” counties like Carter County. That means the council would have to match the federal grant with $214,288 in city funds. If the theater is not approved for the federal grant, the funds from the city would not be needed.

This would be the first large grant that would be provided to the restoration of the 1926-era movie theater. The theater was acquired when the Elizabethton/Carter County Community Foundation raised $111,700 in an effort to buy the theater from its lien holder.

It was the largest fund drive the foundation has ever had. The foundation then presented the building to the city because its charter barred it from owning property.

Since then, the foundation and the Bonnie Kate Theater Restoration Board has held several fundraisers, including the series of Covered Bridge BBQ, Brews, and Blues Festivals. Proceeds from those fundraisers went to install a new roof and fire sprinkler system.

The grant would be the largest amount of funds for the renovation that did not come from local fundraising efforts.