Published On: Sat, Aug 13th, 2011

Separating myths from facts – a timeline: Part 1

Introduction:

The old Cleveland County Courthouse was built in 1907, at a cost of $75,000. In 1974, the county court moved to the then new, Law Enforcement Center, and in 1976, the building became the Cleveland County Historical Museum. nps.gov]

The museum received its charter in August of 1965, with Jim Allen as the registered agent.

Dropping back to the Rogers Theater:

In early March 2003, there were discussions going on about the renovation of the theater, that would restore it back to its glory days. And with the proposal by Jim Allen regarding the old courthouse/museum, and to transform it into a venue to honor two favorite sons, things were looking pretty good back then. In August, it appeared that grant money was coming in and there would be plenty for everything that was needed, and it was only a matter of time before we would see a tremendous change in the uptown area.

Two months later – heartache:

Uptown Shelby Association Director, Ted Alexander had to be the bearer of bad news, and reveal that the grant money couldn’t be used to upgrade the Rogers Theater. He stated that, more or less, the grant committee, in so many words, didn’t explain it.

Our old courthouse and museum featured in Japanese book:
The Shelby Star published an article regarding a book written about Shelby, by a group of Japanese Urban Planners, who were impressed with the old courthouse and Farmers Market. Maybe we should have them back to serve on some boards around here. It may help save us a lot of money.

Myths vs Facts:

This building remained as such until it was faced with needed repairs. However, we will touch on the myth that has been passed around regarding the museum being shut down because of embezzlement.

In the spring of 2004, the courthouse/museum was closed because it needed to be refurbished and repaired. Remember, this was before the embezzlement situation was brought to light. It was also Jim Allen who had the first inspiration to take the old museum to another level, by making it a combined venue, honoring both Don Gibson and Earl Scruggs. This too has been floated about as a myth, but there are several people who know the truth, and the truth still remains silent. You see, this idea dates back to April 2003, when Jim Allen announced the idea at the Merry-Go-Round Festival. Again, allow me to restate, the old courthouse was temporarily closed so it can be refurbished, again, according to the article from The Shelby Star.

Cleveland County Board of Commissioners recently approved having a Historic Properties Commission for the county. The commission has the power to designate historic landmarks and adopt guidelines for new construction, alterations, additions, moving, and demolishing historic landmarks.

We are very interested in having heritage sights to visit, said Brownie Plaster, one member of the nine-member commission. People across the country are doing this and I’m excited that (Cleveland County is) going to be getting on board the cultural tourism.

So, as can be seen, and read here, at that time, there was no Destination Cleveland County, because Jim Allen was taking the initiative to see that his ideas and dream were being set into motion. What happened after that is somewhat unclear. Many notions have been bantered about, and again, the truth still remains silent. Why did Mr. Allen give up on this vision that he was so delighted about? A man just doesn’t walk away from something of this magnitude without some sort of provocation or feeling a sense that all of a sudden it has become a lost cause. Did some people become star-struck along the way? How did Brownie Plaster go from being a singular part of the nine-member commission to all of a sudden, becoming the visionary who brought all of this together? That’s not the way the story is written in the media, until after Jim Allen became a non-factor.

Indictment for embezzlement:

In September 2005, the museum director’s assistant was indicted by a Cleveland County grand jury. Virginia Lee Ginger Dubre, 52, of Hull Road in Casar, was charged with the embezzlement of $200,000 between 1999 and 2004. As usual, the powers that be placed blame elsewhere, but the truth is, it was the leadership’s duty to watch over this entity. Two of our current county commissioners were serving at the time of this infraction. Mary Accor and Ronnie Hawkins Both of these leaders are facing re-election in 2012. It remains to be seen if they will continue their public service. Again, we get this info from The Shelby Star.

Surprise, we found a whole bunch of money to spend:

And lady luck just keeps on smiling on the leadership here. It was reported in June 2005, that there was $380,000 found, and it had been just sitting around since 1998, according to the Shelby Star. And these folks wonder how they weren’t aware of the embezzlement of the museum? A couple of hundred grand here, four hundred grand there, pretty soon, you’re talking about serious money…like enough to replace some Christmas lights. But that’s another story.

Up next, in Part 2 of this series, we will begin with:

Is the Rogers Theatre haunted?

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