City agrees to help theater with filtration system

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

Pawhuska city councilors voted 4-0 last Thursday to help the Constantine Theater’s board pay for the installation of an air-filtration system to make the theater a safer and commercially more attractive venue.

The Constantine, located on Main Street next to City Hall, dates back more than a century. It is a Pawhuska landmark and one of the architecturally distinctive buildings in its downtown district.

Jerry Mosley, speaking on behalf of the theater, told councilors that the installation of the new system would make it more likely that persons involved in the making of “Gray Horse”, a movie based on David Grann’s bestselling book “Killers of the Flower Moon”, might rent the Constantine for purposes of viewing images.

“I want you to buy it (the air-filtration system),” Mosley said, when asked about the support he was seeking from the City Council. Mosley acknowledged the theater board had money in the bank with which it could buy the air-filtration system, but explained that the Constantine had “a ton of other stuff to buy” in connection with efforts to upgrade its facilities.

Mosley said the theater board hoped to have the air-filtration system installed and then capitalize on upcoming school Spring Break schedules to book events.

“This is going to allow us to have the theater open more,” he said.

Mosley said the air-filtration system would become a part of the heating and air-conditioning infrastructure of the theater, which city government owns.

At-Large Councilor Steve Tolson voiced displeasure with the request, noting it was not in the budget. He also questioned why all the relevant information had not been provided to councilors in advance of their meeting.

Interim City Manager Tonya Bright said the city’s budget for the Constantine for the current fiscal year, which runs through June 30, is $25,000. She said that more than $10,000 of that money remained unspent.

A process of negotiation took place, with Mosley suggesting the City Council and the Constantine board could split the cost – which was estimated at more than $8,000 – on a 50/50 basis.

Tolson said he would be willing to support a city government contribution of $3,000, with that to be recouped out of rental fees charged by the theater. Mosley accepted the offer and the rest of the council supported it, as well.

In other business Feb. 25, the City Council voted 4-0 to approve an agreement to allow the Pawhuska Police Department to participate in a law enforcement task force.

Interim Police Chief Lorrie Hennesy said the state-backed task force would help to address drugs and violent crime, but said she would retain control over whether Pawhuska officers would participate in specific enforcement actions.