CURTAINS FOR KENT THEATER: Town Council affirms order to ensure charred structure is demolished

SOUTH WHITLEY — Kent Theater sits with a nearly perfect façade at 220 S. State St. in South Whitley, but look behind the exterior and the theater is anything but perfect. Upon a recent inspection of the site that once housed Turning Point Church, the former theater looked much the same as it did nine months ago when a fire gutted the theater, causing the roof to collapse Feb. 18.Debris and rubble still cover the theater seating, while parts of the structure still display blackened walls.At the South Whitley Town Council meeting Tuesday night, Whitley County Chief Building Inspector Craig Wagner was on hand to discuss the condition of the building. According to the town’s safe-building ordinance, a structure that has seen damage, such as the Kent Theater, can be declared an unsafe building after six months of disrepair. Wagner presented documentation showing he had made sufficient efforts to notify the owner of the building’s state.Owner Mark Minnick, a former South Whitley resident, now lives in California and was unable to appear at the public hearing held during the council meeting. In an online interview, Minnick said, “According to the insurance company, the theatre is a total loss. However, unless there is an independent contractor who could verify the theatre can still be salvaged, it is the insurance company’s feeling the building be demolished.”Read complete story in the Post and Mail's Thursday edition.