WATSONTOWN — A former movie theater that operated in the borough for nearly 70 years will undergo renovations and reopen as a special events venue that will serve alcohol.

Watsontown Borough Council Monday night approved the transfer of a liquor license from the former CC’s Bar in Rockefeller Township to Shane and Kelly Erb of New Columbia, who own the former Watson Theatre.

Shane Erb said they plan to remodel the theater into a venue for bands, comedy shows, plays and conferences. It would be available to rent out for events.

"It’s not opening as a bar," he said. "That’s not our intent."

He said people have expressed an interest in holding plays and conferences there.

Some residents and borough officials asked what the renovations would entail and whether there would be sufficient parking. Several people noted there is municipal parking nearby.

Erb, a contractor, said several of the seats will be taken out. He had no date for when the former theater would be ready to open. He plans to restore the marquee.

The Erbs’ attorney E. Terry Baldwin of Milton Baldwin said the PLCB has kept CC’s license in safekeeping since the bar closed four years ago.

According to cinematreasures.org, the Watson Theatre opened on May 30, 1940, after it was built to replace the Lyceum Theatre, which burned down six years earlier. The Watson closed in September 2009.

Council voted 4-0, with Jack Marshall and Harry Hefty absent, to approve the liquor license.

Awards given

Before the meeting, Police Chief Rodney Witherite and Mayor David Hontz presented heroism awards to a citizen and three borough police officers.

They presented Gary Lee Verdinelli with a Good Citizenship Award for confronting a suspect in a robbery on Aug. 11. The victim of the robbery, her 2-year-old child in her arms, was chasing the suspect across the Watsontown Bridge. Verdinelli confronted the suspect on the White Deer Pike across the bridge. He was attempting to pin the suspect on the road when police arrived.

Lt. Richard Faux received the Gallantry Star, and Sgt. Gregory Drollinger and patrolman Ernest Delp each received the Honorable Service Award for their outstanding performance and bravery in response to a shooting on July 27 in Delaware Township. State police requested assistance from Watsontown officers after a man allegedly shot his girlfriend. Faux arrived first and held the suspect on the front porch at gunpoint. Drollinger and Delp then arrived and assisted with the arrest and aided the shooting victim inside the house.

Council also adopted the borough’s 2016 budget that keeps taxes and electricity rates at current levels.

The general fund totals $1.49 million; the electric fund is at $2.3 million in expenses; the refuse fund is listed at $129,635 and the highway aid fund totals $57,218.

Email comments to jsylvester@dailyitem.com. Follow Sylvester on Twitter @JoepSylvester

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