City Commission approves discussions on Memorial Hall lease

During the Fort Scott City Commission meeting Tuesday evening, commissioners heard from film artists Cameron Cowell and Skip James of Last Farmhouse Films, Inc., who are considering leasing Memorial Hall as their location for an annual documentary film festival.

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“We like Memorial Hall,” Cowell said. “It fits our needs.”

Cowell said he has a passion for film and has always had the dream of starting a film festival in the Midwest.

The commissioners unanimously gave their approval to continue the discussion stages as the film group seeks prices for the renovations Memorial Hall would need, including the sound system and stage additions and other modernizing efforts that may be needed for their purposes, while keeping the current structural appearance as it is.

James said their group has visited numerous locations in small communities trying to find a place to hold the festival each year while hosting other events such as live music throughout the remainder of the year, adding he believes Fort Scott is a great fit and is looking forward to see what transpires.

“I’ve looked high and low in the state of Kansas and have really never been able to come up with a place that I felt was suitable,” Cowell said, saying they wanted  a small community that was easily accessible and not far from Kansas City.

City Manager Dave Martin said the plans of Last Farmhouse Films, Inc., fits in nicely with the city’s own recent efforts to promote the arts in the Fort Scott community.

If they decide Memorial Hall is the fit they believe it is and the leasing is approved, Cowell said they would then move forward with raising their own funding for renovating and looking to local contractors when possible.

“We love Fort Scott…and I think it’s a great community,” Cowell said.

The Fort Scott Commission also used the meeting as an opportunity to recognize members of the community including Fort Scott High School senior Garrett Tatro who was awarded the Prudential Spirit of Community Award for his efforts in supporting literacy by collecting books for children of the community. Tim and Anne Emerson and Jim and Martha Scott were also recognized for raising almost $17,000 to purchase an all-terrain trackchair for wounded veterans, the first such effort to be accomplished in Kansas. The two couples were honored in Topeka as well and have challenged other counties and communities to participate.

The commission also welcomed new commissioner Randy Nichols as he was sworn in to take the position left vacant by Lucas Cosens.

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