FORT LEWIS, Wash. - After 15 months of renovations, movies are back on Fort Lewis in an updated and improved facility.

Lieutenant General Charles Jacoby Jr., I Corps and Fort Lewis commanding general, and Col. Cynthia Murphy, Fort Lewis garrison commander, conducted a ribbon cutting and grand opening ceremony Monday at the newly renovated Carey Theater.

"This is for Soldiers and this is for family members," Jacoby said. "A lot of people went the extra mile to make this happen, and a lot of the improvements that we see in this place have to do with Public Works."

He also thanked Joyce Herschberger, project manager, Seattle District, Army Corps of Engineers.

"I'm proud of the work that she's done, and she will make French Theater and Evergreen Theater look just as good," he said.

Murphy also said a few words.

"This theater, built in 1950, has now been restored," Murphy said. "We spent $3.7 million and a lot of the upgrades, like the heating system, you will not see."

She especially thanked the Army and Air Force Exchange Service for providing the $100,000 for the theater's new Adobe sound system.

In addition to being updated in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, with wheelchair ramps outside and designated spaces for 20 or more wheelchairs inside, many other upgrades were done as well, said Randy W. Hanna, deputy director, Public Works.

He said the renovation includes upgrades of the auditorium seating with cup holders, expanded lobby, new plumbing, restroom renovations, new carpet, LED (light-emitting diode) aisle seating strips, roof bracing, seismic reinforcement, new electrical circuits and lighting, new stage and speakers, abatement of asbestos, structural and exterior upgrades, such as sidewalks, rails and digital signage.

Cherokee General, the contractors for the renovation, did the work, Herschberger said.

"They did a fantastic job," she said. "Throughout the renovation, we kept running into situations that were unknown. We had nine different modifications, and all of that took more time and money."

For example, Herschberger said they discovered that all of the wiring had to be replaced and they had to put anchors on the concrete wall to bring it up to seismic standards.

Following the ribbon cutting, everyone was invited to attend a free showing of "The Pink Panther 2," a premiere film donated by Sony Pictures.

"We've done this many times overseas, but this is the first time we have ever done this in the United States," said Corky Levin, vice president, Sony Pictures, Culver City, Calif., who brought the film. "Everyone here at Fort Lewis will see this movie four days ahead of everyone else."

According to Patrick McGhee, general manager, AAFES, Fort Lewis/McChord, all 889 seats in the newly renovated theater were expected to be filled for the free showing.

"Of those, 50 tickets were specifically designated for Soldiers in the Warrior Transition Battalion," he said.

The original theater got its name from Staff Sgt. Alvin P. Carey, a Medal of Honor recipient, and Jacoby asked everyone to take time to read the plaque dedicating the theater in his honor.

Besides being used to show movies, Carey Theater is also used for things like special presentations, command ceremonies, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation productions, NCO Academy graduations and briefings.

All movies are $2 for adults and $1 for children 12 and younger.

Barbara L. Sellers is a reporter with Fort Lewis' Northwest Guardian.

Page last updated Mon February 9th, 2009 at 13:24