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Radio host buys site of burned Brown County music hall

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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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  • Good luck!
    I hope he is able to pull this off! I remember going there several times and really enjoyed the intimate atmosphere. Good luck to you Scott.

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  1. to mention the rest of Molly's experience- she served as Communications Director for the Indianapolis Department of Public Works and also did communications for the state. She's incredibly qualified for this role and has a real love for Indianapolis and Indiana. Best of luck to her!

  2. Shall we not demand the same scrutiny for law schools, med schools, heaven forbid, business schools, etc.? How many law school grads are servers? How many business start ups fail and how many business grads get low paying jobs because there are so few high paying positions available? Why does our legislature continue to demean public schools and give taxpayer dollars to charters and private schools, ($171 million last year), rather than investing in our community schools? We are on a course of disaster regarding our public school attitudes unless we change our thinking in a short time.

  3. I agree with the other reader's comment about the chunky tomato soup. I found myself wanting a breadstick to dip into it. It tasted more like a marinara sauce; I couldn't eat it as a soup. In general, I liked the place... but doubt that I'll frequent it once the novelty wears off.

  4. The Indiana toll road used to have some of the cleanest bathrooms you could find on the road. After the lease they went downhill quickly. While not the grossest you'll see, they hover a bit below average. Am not sure if this is indicative of the entire deal or merely a portion of it. But the goals of anyone taking over the lease will always be at odds. The fewer repairs they make, the more money they earn since they have a virtual monopoly on travel from Cleveland to Chicago. So they only comply to satisfy the rules. It's hard to hand public works over to private enterprise. The incentives are misaligned. In true competition, you'd have multiple roads, each build by different companies motivated to make theirs more attractive. Working to attract customers is very different than working to maximize profit on people who have no choice but to choose your road. Of course, we all know two roads would be even more ridiculous.

  5. The State is in a perfect position. The consortium overpaid for leasing the toll road. Good for the State. The money they paid is being used across the State to upgrade roads and bridges and employ people at at time most of the country is scrambling to fund basic repairs. Good for the State. Indiana taxpayers are no longer subsidizing the toll roads to the tune of millions a year as we had for the last 20 years because the legislature did not have the guts to raise tolls. Good for the State. If the consortium fails, they either find another operator, acceptable to the State, to buy them out or the road gets turned back over to the State and we keep the Billions. Good for the State. Pat Bauer is no longer the Majority or Minority Leader of the House. Good for the State. Anyway you look at this, the State received billions of dollars for an assett the taxpayers were subsidizing, the State does not have to pay to maintain the road for 70 years. I am having trouble seeing the downside.

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