WINTER HAVEN – On June 28, the Florida Attorney General’s Office filed a motion that nearly marks the end of court involvement with the Ritz Theatre in downtown Winter Haven.
The court has been involved with the theater on Central Avenue for more than a year in reference to allegations of poor past management.
A list of local leaders was submitted to the court June 28 and on July 8 a new Ritz Theatre board will be elected.
The new board members who will be elected July 8 will immediately become responsible for the remaining mortgage at the Ritz — roughly $700,000 according to former board members.
The list submitted by Davis’ attorney was not made public.
Judge Catherine Combee appointed retired judge Charles Davis last year to take over the theater's operations. In court last week, she asked Davis if his name was on the list. Davis said it was not and that his answer was deliberate.
“They need a fresh start and (to) do things their way,” Davis said.
Earlier, on June 24, Davis attended a Winter Haven City Commission meeting to thank them for emergency funding several months ago. Davis said the mortgage on the venue has been refinanced at a better rate, all the insurance is paid and all bills are currently up to date thanks to community support over the past year.
“This happened because the community has said we believe in the future of the Ritz and so this is something the entire community should be thanked for,” Davis said. “And so my job tonight is to say ‘thank you’ and ‘farewell.’”
Winter Haven Mayor Brad Dantzler said the community owes Davis “a debt of gratitude.”
Commissioner William Twyford said Davis did a good job turning the Ritz theater around.
“We have Judge Davis to thank for all of it,” Twyford said.
For the past few months, Theatre Winter Haven staff have been producing regular events at the Ritz, keeping the venue’s calendar active.
Contact Charles A. Baker III at email@example.com.