Cozad, NE (September 16th, 2020)—Bringing movies back to Cozad has been keeping the Cozad Development Corporation busy over the past year. The purchase of the historic Allen Opera House gave CDC the idea to convert the space into a three-screen movie theater. The owners of the Tiffany theater in Broken Bow promised to operate the theater if CDC would renovate and own the building.
The renovations were major, since there was no electrical, plumbing, heating or access to the entire second story. Raising $1.2 Million during 2020 has not been an easy task. A grant from the state of Nebraska covered nearly half, and CDC committed to a loan of $185,000. That left nearly $450,000 to raise locally. The Peter Kiewitt Foundation challenged CDC to a matching grant of $100,000. That meant if CDC could raise $350,000 from fundraising and sponsorships, Kiewitt would donate $100,000.
Fundraising was going well until March when Covid prevented any fundraising events or in-person meetings. Luckily 175 families, businesses, and individuals stepped up and sponsored seats. Paulsen Inc., Cozad Telephone, Homestead Bank, Waypoint Bank, Security First Bank, and the Berreckman Family in memory of Claude Berreckman Sr., have sponsored the theaters and the community room.
The fundraising committee was approximately $40,000 away from receiving the challenge grant and Kiewitt had already graciously extended the deadline from June 1st until October 1st.
The Home Agency, a full-line insurance company, is opening a branch office in Cozad, with Teresa Osborn as the local insurance agent. Being actively involved in the communities they serve has been an important aspect of their success in years past. When asked if The Home Agency would be interested in donating funds for the community theater, Teresa pitched the idea to the owner, Jim Baldonado. After being in contact with the CDC, Jim learned more about the theater project and pledged that not only The Home Agency would donate, but also his family, and BHA Real Estate (a Baldonado owned company that serves Lexington, Johnson Lake, Cozad and surrounding areas) to reach the final amount needed.
“I was trying to play it cool when Jim was asking me questions about our theater project,” stated Jennifer McKeone, CDC Executive Director, “but actually my heart was beating so loud I thought he could probably hear it on the other side of the phone. Projects like this always require a lot of blind faith that you can meet your fundraising goals, but this has not been the best year for fundraising, movies, or timelines. I was beginning to panic we wouldn’t make our goal.”
The Home Agency is headquartered in Elwood, Nebraska. Jim Baldonado came to the company in 1986, and has grown it into what it is today with hard work, consistency, great employees, and even better customers. The Home Agency has offices in 20 locations across Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, and Iowa. They offer all lines of insurance, specializing in ag specific lines such as multi-peril, crop hail, pivots and livestock risk protection (LRP). In the Cozad office, Teresa Osborn will reflect the company’s strengths and focus on the ag specific products and services while still providing home, auto, farm, and more to her customers.
According to Jim Baldonado, “We’ve had an office in Cozad before, but this time there is no doubt we have the right person in there. We like to give back to communities we are in especially when it enhances the quality of life for the families in the town, and especially when it’s something for kids. We’re looking forward to going to movies in Cozad again, just like everyone else.”
The Fox Theater will open in November and show first run movies, seven days a week.
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