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Owner of David Barber Civic Center is bringing back bingo

The David Barber Civic Center has been sold and will transfer ownership in July. This is one of the final steps in the process of trustee Ken Goldberg liquidating the assets of the now-defunct Newcomerstown Emergency Rescue Squad.

Shawn Parker of Columbus purchased the property and plans to update the building and lighting. He will soon hire an operations manager so the facility can be rented to the public again and bingo returns to the Civic Center.

“In addition to bingo, we also communicate with an event promoter who books nationally known acts and shows to explore if there are fun events downtown and to get the community excited,” Parker said. “This group has produced shows ranging from Charlie Daniel’s Band to the Wallflowers and the Guess Who, and it would be a great asset if we can forge a partnership to make this happen. Also possible are antique shows, seasonal markets such as Christmas and other value-added events.

“We hope that the Civic Center will soon be a great asset to all of Tuscarawas County,” Parker added.

Bobby Kortsen, also of Columbus, was part of the venture when Goldberg approached him about the bingo equipment associated with the defunct team. “After visiting the David Barber Civic Center to view the equipment, I met with Newcomerstown Mayor Patrick Cadle who proposed reopening bingo in a way to bring back something that area residents enjoy, and as a way to benefit local groups that would be willing to volunteer with the bingo operations,” Kortsen said.

“I was put in touch with Shawn, and he was all about bingo, so I put together a business plan based on local youth and other organizations that might be interested in being part of bingo and benefiting from this money ,” he said. He was assisted by Cadle and Bob and Larry Huggins, who are raising money for the Norma Mae Huggins Endowment Fund. This fund was established shortly after their mother lost her battle with colon cancer in 2003.

“I previously managed the Youth Sports Foundation bingo program in Columbus, so I have experience operating a bingo hall. My role will be to set up and get the bingo going, as well as train and supervise local volunteers My goal is for locals to eventually take over the hall’s operations under the leadership of a manager. Bingo times will remain as in the past, with games on Tuesday or Wednesday evenings and Sunday afternoons, Kortsen said.

“We hope to have a permit and open by the end of July,” Kortsen added. “In the meantime, we will be working on staffing and marketing. If you are interested in seeing what is involved in registering your group as a volunteer, please call me at 614-374-7378.

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