Crossville’s Palace Theatre traditionally hosts Grand Ole Opry stars, comedians, pageants, school productions, classic movies and community fundraising entertainment endeavors.

All of that changed with the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.

“The Palace got hit bad,” City Manager Greg Wood said during a special-called Crossville City Council meeting April 22. 

Though things are picking back up, the downtown venue is still struggling. That’s why the council authorized Todd Olsen, director of Palace operations, to apply for a Shuttered Venue Operators Grant.

“This is an opportunity to try and recoup some of those funds,” Wood explained. “We were still paying staff for being on board. Obviously, it’s probably one of our only opportunities to try and recoup those funds, so we want to give it a shot.”

“Good idea,” replied Mayor James Mayberry. 

Administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Disaster Assistance, the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program has $16 billion available for grants to help venues suffering due to live music shutdowns as a result of the pandemic. 

Eligible applicants may qualify for grants equal to 45% of their gross earned revenue. The maximum amount for a single grant is $10 million. Two billion dollars has been reserved for eligible applications for venues with up to 50 full-time employees.

Formerly known as the Save Our Stages Act, it was established by the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits and Venues and amended by the American Rescue Plan Act.

The city’s engineering department was also unanimously authorized to apply for a Tennessee Department of Transportation aeronautics acquisition grant for the acquisition of an airspace easement east of the runway at Crossville Memorial Airport. 

Trees are encroaching the runway’s approach path. The airport layout plan, a 10-year capital improvement plan, is underway, and Wood said it’s important to have the trees removed before the plan is approved. 

“It shows everything that encroaches into the air space also,” said City Engineer Tim Begley. “Once it’s shot on the ALP, it takes a pretty good bit of work to have it removed or taken off the FAA’s website.”

The estimated airspace easement cost is $37,000. A 5% grant match is likely.

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