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Radio host buys site of burned Brown County music hall

April 18, 2012

A central Indiana business owner and radio show host plans on rebuilding a southern Indiana concert hall that hosted some of country music's top acts before it burned down in 2009.

Scott Wayman was the only bidder for the Little Nashville Opry site during Tuesday's Brown County commissioners tax sale, submitting the minimum bid of nearly $58,000. He'll have to wait 120 days to take possession of the site to see whether the current owner can pay about $120,000 in back taxes, The Herald-Times reported.

Wayman, who has hosted the morning show on country music station WCBK-FM of Martinsville for nearly 30 years and owns a furniture store there with his parents, said he had looked into buying the 2,000-seat hall before the fire and wants to have a similar venue there again.

"We do plan to rebuild the Opry," Wayman said. "My parents and myself, along with other friends had season tickets for years."

The concert hall along Indiana 46 burned down in 2009, and its former manager, 75-year-old James Bowyer, was charged in March with arson and intent to defraud. Court documents show the hall was insured for more than $3 million.

Bowyer has pleaded not guilty and his defense attorney has said he was convinced of Bowyer's innocence. The concert hall's owner has not been charged.

The venue opened in 1975 and had hosted performers such as Johnny Cash, George Strait, the Oak Ridge Boys and Trisha Yearwood.

Local officials have said they want to see the concert hall reopened to help draw visitors to the rural area best known for Brown County State Park and its typically bright fall colors.

Wayman said he faces a great deal of work preparing to build a new theater.

"We basically have to start over," he said.

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