Sierra Community Theatre board of directors president Jim Daubendiek shows the newly placed donor wall at the community owned theatre.
Sierra Community Theatre board of directors president Jim Daubendiek shows the newly placed donor wall at the community owned theatre.
November 20, 2013


It's been a whirlwind year of progress at the community operated Sierra Theatre in downtown Jefferson.

So it's only fitting that board members, theater supporters and the community celebrated the milestone with a double billing of "Twister," an iconic 1996 movie with tornado chasers, flying hogs and panoramic cinematography, with some handsome footage of Greene County. Filmmakers shot key scenes in central Iowa.

"It's been a long time since I've seen that," said Sierra Theatre president Jim Daubendiek, president of the theater board. "I didn't realize how intense that was."

Daubendiek addressed theater-goers Sunday afternoon in between showings of "Twister," and the serving of celebratory cake, ice cream and cider.

More than 130 donations, totalling more than $203,000, have helped lift the theater to its modern, high-definition, 3D status, Daubendiek said. Community members contributed thousands of dollars in the form of in-kind donations as well, he said.

"It's been very gratifying to live in a county that's been so generous," Daubendiek said.

The Sierra board unveiled a donor wall as part of ceremonies Sunday.

The community organization took ownership of the theater from Des Moines-based Fridley Theatres in November 2012. The theater's success stems in large part from its ability to land major first-run movies - like "Catching Fire," the second of the wildly popular "The Hunger Games" films, which opens on Friday night and runs for about two weeks at the Sierra.

The lower level of the theater complex, already an attractive meeting spot for organizations like the Greene County Development Corp., will see more upgrades in the coming year to turn it into a first-rate, fully wired conference center, Daubendiek said.

"This will make possible great experiences in the future," he said.

The Sierra board of directors includes: Daubendiek, Jim Groves, Sandy Groves, Chris Henning, Lisa Jaskey, Jim North, Mike Piepel, Jim Rose, Tom Wind and Andrew Woodley.

Staff includes: Dustin Gustoff, Brandon Gustoff, Sarah Nicholson and Kelly Finley.

"It's been a pleasure working with this group," Daubendiek said.

He said openings remain for board and volunteer positions.

"We are a community theater so we do appreciate any suggestions or comments," Daubendiek said.

The Head Opera House was built in 1884 for the Head Brothers and the Masonic Lodge by the general contractor E.E. Gallup. The Masons occupied the second-floor space until 2012.

Moving pictures came along in 1910 and sound in 1931. Fridley had a long run of operation before donating the theater.