The campaign to raise funds to build a community centre and new fire hall in Middleton got a shot in the arm Aug. 28 when the local Rotary club chipped in $50,000 towards the $1.4-million goal.
Back in June, the Town of Middleton and Middleton Fire Department kicked off an ambitious fundraising campaign to raise the money from local businesses, residents, and community groups to build the $3.9-million facility across Commercial Street from town hall.
Christine Beck, president of the Rotary Club of Middleton, made the giant cheque presentation on the building site.
“The Rotary club started our Toonie draw a few years ago,” she said. “A year-and-a-half ago, our then president decided to put into place a special projects fund. So we take 20 per cent of all the earnings from our Toonie draw and we put it aside for projects such as this.”
The Toonie draw, called Rotary Goldmine 50/50, turned out to be just that for the community centre project.
“It just makes sense to have a community centre that’s open to the public, and we know the fire department is outgrowing their current space, so we had a meeting a couple of months ago and decided that a good portion of that special projects fund would go to the Middleton community centre and fire hall.”
She said it’s a good way to show the community what Rotary actually does.
“A lot of people don’t know what Rotary does and who we support, so this brings some recognition and some eyes towards us as far as what we do,” she said.
Gary Marshall, a town councillor, and with Mayor Sylvestor Atkinson co-chair of the Community Centre and Fire Hall Committee, said the campaign called ‘Achieving the Dream, The Final Mile’ encourages people to donate with all contributions, big or small, going towards the project.
“The Rotary club very generously today has come forward and donated $50,000 which is a huge kickoff to the campaign, and a great kick-start,” Marshall said. “As far as the people in the community there are multiple ways they can donate. They can donate online through CanadaHelps and they can get to that site through the town website.”
Marshall said the Middleton Fire Department serves a very large catchment area – from the west of Middleton down to parts of Brickton, to the east of Middleton up to Wilmot, up to Port George and surrounding communities.
“And so with the fire service it’s not just the Town of Middleton that the fire department serves, there are all the outlying communities in the county – in the east end of Annapolis County,” he said, noting half of the calls the fire department receives are for outside the town.
“This is for everybody, not just the Town of Middleton, but everybody, Marshall said.
“It’s a great addition to the kickoff to our campaign,” said Middleton Fire Chief Mike Toole of the Rotary donation. “It definitely jumped the thermometer up pretty good.”
He said hopefully now that this significant amount has been donated others will follow suit.
“I’m encouraging basically anyone who would like to donate to the project – big or small – whether it’s 10 dollars or a million dollars,” he said. “Individuals, businesses, community groups. Anybody.”
He said the new fire hall part of the project will be very significant for firefighters.
“Our current hall is absolutely closed in for space, as you’re aware of, so it will definitely open up more room for safety for our firefighters – getting on the truck, room to work around the fire hall, training, overall fire procedures. Efficiency.”
Atkinson said it’s been a long time coming.
“In a small town like this, and a small area, it’s not something that would happen overnight,” he said. “I think when we started some eight or 10 years ago we mentioned – Gary and I were the co-chairs – that it wouldn’t happen overnight. It would take a while, sort of like when we started with the nursing home campaign. It took eight or 10 years, but nevertheless if you keep at it and don’t quit and you keep hitting everyone that’s possible – from the municipal, provincial, and federal level, local businesses, charity groups, service clubs – eventually you’ll get there. And we’re on our way.”
Marshall agreed. Prior to the Rotary contribution, the fundraising thermometer stood at $203,000, or 15 per cent of the goal.
“It’s been a long while as you know. It’s been about 10 years, but finally, as the campaign title says – Achieving the Dream, the Final Mile – we’re going to get there.”
The community centre and fire hall is also getting funds from government sources.
The Town of Middleton has committed $650,000, the fire department has committed $100,000, with another $100,000 coming from the Annapolis County Fire Services capital grant.
“The town hopes to secure funding for the overall building structure through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program that would provide $1.03 million in federal funding and $855,000 provincial,” the campaign website said.
“Unfortunately, there are no funding programs available that cover the capital costs of building a fire hall,” it said. “Therefore, we need the community’s help to raise $1.4 million dollars to complete the fire hall portion of the project.”
Depending on fundraising success, construction could begin as early as the spring of 2020.