September 26, 2001 11:00 pm
THEATRE TEAM: Lori and David Brandt and Mary Rautenstrauch are operating the theater. (The Observer/GARY FLETCHER).
THEATRE TEAM: Lori and David Brandt and Mary Rautenstrauch are operating the theater. (The Observer/GARY FLETCHER).

By Gary Fletcher

Observer Staff Writer

ENTERPRISE The day after the disasters back East, a former firefighter bought Enterprises O.K. Theatre.

David Brandt and his wife, Lori, purchased the theater from Russell Ford, who had owned the business since 1982.

The Brandts looked at the business venture as an opportunity they didnt want to pass up.

We saw this as a venue that the community really uses all year long, David Brandt said.

Added Lori, We thought it would be a lot of fun. It has a great community base.

They plan to build on that base with events and meetings.

They hope to have an Enterprise High School talent show Oct. 30, and they are considering hosting theme shows such as Grease or American Graffiti during the High Mountain Cruise spring car show. Pure Country or the like may play during Chief Joseph Days.

The Brandts have established a movie telephone number, 4AMOVIE (426-6843), where patrons can find out what will be playing. They also plan to set up a Web site.

Their goal is to build on the successes of longtime owner Ford, who plans to devote more time to his glass blowing. He added a new projector last year, a new sound system before that and a babysitting room. He worked closely with the Wallowa Valley Arts Council on various productions and a grant provided lighting for stage shows such as the Missoula Childrens Theater.

Ford credited loyal and steady customers with keeping him in business.

The Brandts will be relying on the experience of manager Mary Rautenstrauch to help run the theater.

We have a lot to learn, Lori said. We still dont know where all the light switches are.

David Brandt, 42, originally followed in the footsteps of his father, who is a 39-year veteran firefighter for the City of Eureka, Calif. The younger Brandt, though, had to change careers due to an injury.

Lifelong visits to Wallowa County eventually convinced the Brandts that they should move to Wallowa County, which they did five years ago when they bought the Dobbin House. Two years later they purchased another adult foster care home, the Joseph House. David is also a real estate agent at Real Estate Associates in Joseph.

The couple didnt take long to get involved in the community.

David has served on the Wallowa County Planning Commission and was an Enterprise High School football coach for four years. He is president of the local board of Realtors.

Lori serves on the Wallowa Valley Health Care Foundation Board, on the Community Connection Transportation Board and is regional vice president of the Oregon State Association of Adult Care Providers.

The Brandts have two grown sons living out of the area. At home are their daughter, Shelby, 17, and son, Travis, 12.