Crestview Cable is collecting donations made in support of the Pine Theater

by: JASON CHANEY/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Crestview Cable manager Mike O’Herron displays the flier that was sent to Prineville customers in their May billing statements.

Crestview Cable Manager Mike O’Herron admits that he is not normally in the business of promoting other businesses unless they are paying for advertising.
   He decided Pine Theater was worth making an exception.
   “I like going by and seeing that marquee,” O’Herron said. “I like taking my wife there for a Sunday afternoon matinee or Saturday night date to see a movie without having to drive into Bend.”
   Because movie studios have stopped making film prints, and have gone exclusively digital, Pine Theater must purchase digital film projectors or go out of business. Owners Ali and Oniko Mehrabi said they could not afford the $95,000 expense, so they embarked on a substantial fundraising effort this past March to raise the money. Until a self-imposed deadline of July 4, 2013, they are selling engraved horseshoes that will go in the sidewalk outside the theater for $400 apiece.
   Through March and April, they had collected less than a quarter of the target amount, and even though the Mehrabis found a way to make the purchase for $80,000, they still had a long way to go.
   This prompted Brett Goodman, long-time Prineville resident and technical operation supervisor with Crestview Cable to approach O’Herron about seeing what they could do to help.
   “So we got to talking about it as a management team and said this isn’t just a business, this is something special in Prineville,” O’Herron said. “Most small towns anymore don’t have movie theaters.”
   Following their discussions, the Crestview Cable staff decided to collect donations from its approximately 2,000 Prineville customers. They sent out a flier in their May billing statements that explained the Pine Theater situation and solicited donations. For every $400 collected, they would purchase a horseshoe.
   O’Herron wasn’t sure what to expect as he launched the effort.
   “I had no idea — couldn’t tell you if we’d get 50 cents or $50 million. I really had no expectations,” he said. “We thought, ‘What will our customers say — we don’t usually do this.’”
   One month later, O’Herron is pleased with the response. Not only did he not hear a negative comment about the donation push, Crestview collected $1,600, enough for four horseshoes.
   With about a month left until their deadline, the Mehrabis have raised about $24,000, leaving them $56,000 to raise. Nevertheless, they are thrilled with what Crestview Cable chose to do.
   “We’re overwhelmed with joy and excitement that someone stepped up to help us,” said Oniko Mehrabi. “This is a great community service Crestview Cable has stepped up to do for our town and our business.”
   While the primary goal was to raise more money for the theater, O’Herron said the donation drive served another purpose that he hopes will help the cause.
   “The second reason was to create community awareness,” he said. “They needed to get the word out and we had a mechanism to do that.”
   O’Herron also pointed out that their efforts gave potential donors an opportunity to contribute amounts smaller than the $400 required to buy a horseshoe.
   “There are lots of people in town who might want to do something who don’t have $400.”
   Crestview Cable will continue to collect donations through the upcoming month. Meanwhile, O’Herron is hopeful that the Mehrabis raise enough money to stay open, and he is happy with his decision to help the cause.
   “I can only say, gosh, I’m glad we did this.”

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