Whether Somerset County residents want to see the movie "Lincoln" or"Skyfall,"everyone knows one thing about going: They will have to travel because there are no movie theaters in Somerset County.
Ron Aldom, executive director of the Somerset County Chamber of Commerce, said a movie theater is always in the top 10 of things that people ask the chamber about.
"The need is there, people want it," he said. "We hear that from kids, families and visitors."
Tony Urban, aFriedensphotographer and film buff, said his mother has told him about the Governor Theater in uptown Somerset. There were also two theaters in strip malls in Somerset and one drive-in. Meyersdale also had two theaters and a drive-in and Salisbury and Windber each had movie theaters.
Urban remembers going to ThePalace Theaterin Somerset to see "The Hills Have Eyes." That was the last movie he remembers seeing in the county.
"I don't think we ever will have another theater in town," he said. "Richland is so close. But it's a shame — when we had the Palace in Somerset we would go to the movies every week, sometimes twice a week. But when you consider driving, we maybe go once a month. And we eat out and sometimes shop at the same time. That is money that we are spending in another county."
He feels sorry for kids who don't have a local theater to visit with friends. Miguel Saviroff, Somerset, said that not all young people have access to cars or have friends with cars.
"Many loners are stuck with video games and do not socialize except with virtual friends," Saviroff said. "A cinema in Somerset with a restaurant or a snack place would be priceless."
Unfortunately, it is the cost that is the issue, Aldom said. A committee had explored trying to bring in a movie theater and it was not cheap. A building would have to be constructed, especially if the company wanted to make it a multiple-screen facility.
"It comes down to making the investment," he said. "When you think that Johnstown is 20 minutes to a half-hour from Somerset, that seems to be good enough. We had a serious committee together; it was just a matter of finding someone to bring in a theater. This is an issue that should never die — ask kids and families, it's one of the top things we need in the county."