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Commission eyes 800-seat theater at park

April 18, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Plans are progressing on building an 800-seat amphitheater at Sam Michaels Park for live music performances, which is already a mainstay at the popular park, officials said Thursday.

Live music, especially bluegrass, is a regular attraction at the annual Mountain Heritage Arts and Crafts Festival, which is held twice a year at Sam Michaels Park.

Live music now will have its own special spot under the plan being developed by the Jefferson County Parks and Recreation Commission.

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The commission arranged to have David Lipp of Helbing Lipp Architects and Engineers study the possibility of building an amphitheater at the park on Job Corps Road, officials said Thursday.

Lipp said park officials could choose between three types of amphitheaters: one that would support local acts, a mid-range facility that would attract more regional type groups or a facility that would attract Grammy-level entertainers, said Mike McDonald, chairman of a committee overseeing the project.

The county parks commission has agreed to proceed with design of a mid-range facility, McDonald said Thursday.

The amphitheater would have 500 fixed seats and seating for 300 people in a grassy area, said Jefferson County Commissioner Al Hooper, who is the commission's liaison to the park board.

Park officials plan to seek funding for the facility through grants, foundations and the state Legislature, McDonald said.

McDonald said it is too early to tell how much the facility will cost.

There are many details that still have to be worked out, including parking facilities, what type of lighting it will have, what the stage design will be and getting input from booking agents, according to McDonald and Hooper.

"It's a huge list," McDonald said.

McDonald said he hopes the amphitheater can be built within five years.

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