The Pawhuska City Council last week appointed a full slate of members for a reconstituted board for the Constantine Theater.
The theater, located along Main Street next to city hall, is a highly regarded local cultural asset. City government officials said it had been determined through research that just one person who had been serving on what was understood to be the Constantine board had been properly placed in office.
The city council took action in a special meeting Tuesday, Feb. 25, to put in place a properly selected slate of 18 board members. The reconstituted board is expected to meet in March to begin charting a new course for the theater.
City Manager Dave Neely told the Journal-Capital that if the new board were to convey the theater property back to the city of Pawhuska, the city could then establish a budget for the Constantine and spend money on utilities, on maintenance needs, and possibly on hired staffing.
Neely said city government is interested in keeping the Constantine open more, and in providing more entertainment options for local residents and visitors to the city.
“We would be looking to go in and do some inspections,” Neely said. “We just want to make it more attractive for people to come to events there.”
He added that city government may have people already on staff who could go in and do maintenance and cleanup work as part of their duties.
Jesse Worten III, an attorney who had been critical of the management of the Constantine, said he thought that a conveyance of the property to city government, followed by the city investing in the theater, would probably be the best thing that had happened to the Constantine in a long time. Worten, who represents clients interested in the future of the theater, otherwise declined comment on the changes that are in progress.
There were two public discussions of the status, management and future of the Constantine Theater last December. Both discussions were at times marked by heated expression.
City Attorney John Heskett explained to the Journal-Capital last week that he, Neely, City Councilor Jourdan Foran and City Clerk Tonya Bright had taken part in follow-up, private discussions with members of two groups interested in the management and the future of the Constantine. Heskett described the communication as generally cordial and marked by a desire to do things in a correct manner. Heskett said he also had communication with Worten about his concerns.
Foran commented that the reconstitution of the Constantine board was necessary to ensure a board quorum would be available to take official actions on behalf of the theater property. She said each of the interested groups had submitted a list of potential members for the new theater board.
“At this point, they just needed a full board,” Foran said. “We wanted them to have plenty of people to gain a quorum.”
Foran also voiced a desire for the new board to be able to achieve a fresh start.
“I think we’re on the right track, just getting a full group,” she said. Foran commented on the programming and building maintenance needs that can be more easily addressed if ownership of the theater property is transferred back to city government.
The Journal-Capital obtained a list of the members of the new board. Members were chosen to serve terms of one, two, or three years. Names included on the list of one-year terms were: Melissa Byers, Misty Hull, Terrie Jeffers, Jerry Mosley, Tara Shaw and Paul Linder. Names included on the list of two-year terms were: Alma Hull, Cheryl Nelson, Alleen Gaither, Beth Reed, Ben West and Candy Thomas. Names included on the list of three-year terms were: Lori Highfill, Marlene Mosley, Garrett Hartness, Brian Jeffers, Barbara Jacques and Jennifer Adair.