Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Letters to the Editor

April 26, 2007

The Chuck Mathena Center: Continued support crucial to project

A much-anticipated jewel in the heart of Princeton received a funding boost last week with the announcement of a $5 million federal loan for the Chuck Mathena Center for the Performing Arts.

“This loan will help the Mathena Foundation, which has done so much for the youth of Mercer County, accomplish its dream of establishing a performing arts center for the community,” said U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., when announcing the loan from the United States Department of Agriculture.

A vision of the Mathena family for more than a decade, plans for the performing arts center include serving as a venue for a diverse range of entertainment and cultural activities, as well as local social and recreational events.

The center is named in memory of Charles T. “Chuck” Mathena III, who died in an automobile accident on March 11, 1992, less than two months from his graduation from the Joseph M. Bryan School of Business and Economics at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. While a student at Princeton Senior High School, Chuck was a member of the school’s Madrigals Choral Group and was named to the All-State West Virginia Chorus.

Construction on the performing arts center is expected to be completed this spring, and a summer 2007 opening date is anticipated.

The goal is for the center to serve the people of southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia, with a 1,000-seat theater and community center.

The center will be about 42,000 square feet and include an auditorium that will provide theater quality sound, according to organizers. A lobby and gallery area is planned for artistic displays and presentations, as well as areas for use as classrooms, receptions and conferences.

“These kids deserve something like this,” said Chuck’s father, Charles Mathena, during an event last year when a time capsule was encased at the center. “Not everyone plays football and basketball. Kids need a place like this where they can dance, sing and act. We all need a place like this where we can experience the performing arts the way they are supposed to be experienced.”

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