The local Tyson Auditorium has sat empty and unused since it closed its doors in 2008 as a result of school consolidation. However, if the Tyson Community Advancement Foundation has anything to say about it, the auditorium will soon be opening its doors as the new Tyson Activity Center.
The Tyson Community Advancement Foundation was founded by six Versailles residents, several of whom have very fond memories of the auditorium from their past and want to see it used again by the community. Members are Aimee and Jeff Cornett, Shawn and Tammy Halcomb, and Stacey and Shannon Schmaltz.
After several years of talking about the idea of turning the auditorium into an activity center, they decided to roll up their shirt sleeves and take on the project.
"We currently rent the gym out for community events, birthday parties, etc.," said Aimee Cornett. "Right now, the main gym area is the most usable space."
"Our goal is to create a usable space that is affordable for families to go together and not have to leave town," Cornett said. "We eventually hope to offer after-school programs, back pack programs, and other services for those who qualify for the free or reduced-lunch program at school."
The Tyson Community Advancement Foundation has applied for a 5013C to be able to operate as a non-profit organization. This way, they will be able to apply for various grants to fund activities and help with the renovation, Cornett said.
The group is currently renovating the basement area and performing clean up around the stage area, as well. Cornett said that there is a lot of water damage, which is making it a long process. Once the basement is ready, the foundation hopes to use the rooms for various activities, such as art classes.
The community will be able to visit the auditorium on Friday, Oct. 19, when the gym will be open to the public. There will be bouncy houses for the kids, corn hole, basketball, volleyball and other gym activities. The cost is $5 per hour, but those visiting on that day will receive the second hour free of charge.
On Friday and Saturday, Oct. 26-27, visitors can get their spook on when the auditorium will be transformed into a Haunted Gym. This will include a spooky tour of the building. For smaller children who may be afraid to venture on the tour, there will be free spooky games and activities geared for them.
There will be open adult co-ed volleyball on Sundays, beginning Nov. 4.
Tyson Youth Basketball Leagues are also currently forming for children in grades one through six. Registration forms are available at the Versailles Public Library or by requesting one via email at email@example.com. The cost to sign up is $300, which guarantees eight games with a single elimination tournament. The deadline for registration and payment is Saturday, Oct. 27. The league will begin play on Saturday, Nov. 10.
All money collected for events and activities goes back into the maintenance, utilities and the cost for leasing the building. The foundation could definitely use some help from the community with the renovation. Those wanting to volunteer their time can call Cornett at 812-614-1393 or send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information can also be found on their facebook page - Tyson Community Center.
The auditorium was named after Jim "Uncle Jim" Tyson, one of the founders of the Walgreen Drug Company. Tyson established a trust fund for his boyhood home, Versailles. He also built Tyson United Methodist Church in honor of his mother, the town library, the old Versailles High School, and the Versailles Water Works. Tyson contributed liberally to many other projects in Versailles. Even today, the fund provides money to different groups and projects in Versailles.