ANDERSON — Christmas arrived early in Madison County in the form of more than $1 million in donations from the Ricker family.
During a ceremony at the Paramount Theatre on Thursday, Jay and Nancy Ricker announced the family was providing $500,000 to pay off the mortgage for the historic theater.
Nancy Ricker announced the family is also providing $500,000 to the Madison County Community Foundation for the Habitat for Humanity program in the county.
The family also provided the Madison County Historical Society a check for $25,000.
The Ricker family also created a separate foundation that will provide funding in future years for additional projects. Jay Ricker said a substantial amount of money was placed in the foundation, and future grants will be awarded from the earnings of the initial investment.
“We recently sold our business,” Jay Ricker said of the sale of the family’s convenience stores to Giant Eagle Foods. “We will still be involved in the community.”
“We put this together at short notice,” he said. “We’ve always been thankful to the community for our successful business. We wanted to give back to the people who made us successful.”
Ricker said the Paramount Theatre is the cultural center of downtown Anderson and it’s a tough building to maintain, to offer programming and to pay off a mortgage.
He recognized the local residents who had guaranteed the theater’s mortgage over the years since it was first saved from the wrecking ball in 1989.
Ricker said the paying off of the mortgage would provide the Paramount Theatre board with working capital and remove a $7,000 per month mortgage payment.
“Hopefully this puts the Paramount Theatre on the road to self-sufficiency,” he said.
Randy Hammel, executive director of the Paramount Theatre, said it was a special day.
“People who are here will know how much this means to us,” he said. “The Ricker family has put an exclamation point on this season of giving.”
Nancy Ricker said the company has always supported Habitat for Humanity and was creating a designated endowment through the Community Foundation in the amount of $500,000.
She said because of a Lilly grant, the Community Foundation will receive an additional $250,000.
Sally DeVoe, director of the Madison County Community Foundation, said the $250,000 would be placed in the unrestricted fund for future programs.
“We wanted to give back to the community,” Jay Ricker said. “Hopefully this will be a learning experience and other local successful businesses will give back to the community.”