N.B. civic center nears fundraising goal

Posted April 13, 2009, at 10:05 p.m.

ST. STEPHEN, New Brunswick — The goal to raise the final $500,000 to build the $3.5 million Charlotte County Civic Center is not just marching toward completion, it’s moving at warp speed.

Organizers recently announced they have raised $3 million and the project is four years ahead of schedule.

“We are not quite there yet,” Richard Fulton, president of CCCC, said in a recent telephone interview. “We are going to finish the fundraising campaign within the next six weeks.”

Organizers plan to break ground in August and the project is expected to be completed in 2011, Fulton said. It will be built near the Town Square and the visitor information center in St. Stephen. The town is buying the property, and will operate the complex once it is built.

Although based in Canada, the sports and community complex will be within walking distance of downtown Calais, Maine, which has participated in fundraising activities for the project.

Calais attorney David Mitchell, who has spearheaded fundraising in Calais, said recently in a telephone interview that he was pleased that a major milestone had been reached.

“We were pretty confident that we would reach it, [and] we are getting closer and closer,” he said. To date, more than $130,000 has been raised on the U.S. side of the border.

Mitchell said Calais volunteers were still pursuing pledges and Calais area businesses have been invited to participate.

“What we are finding with a lot of these stores is that the local managers are in favor of it to some extent, but they are not the ones making the ultimate decision. Those decisions will be made at the corporate level. So we have the local managers pushing for it. We are probably not going to get what we asked for, but we will get something,” he said. “It all adds up, and the fact that they’ve reached their $3 million goal is testimony to that.”

People in New Brunswick have carried the bulk of the fundraising effort.

“The last few weeks have been exciting,” Norah Heelis, co-chairman of the fundraising campaign along with her husband, Peter, said in a press release. “A site has been chosen and the announcement has been made. Government funding at all three levels has been all but finalized and the starting date looks to be a matter of months rather than years. But all this depends upon our fundraising campaign reaching its goal.”

Once the local $3.5 million fundraising goal is reached, organizers can appeal to the Canadian federal and provincial governments, which are expected to contribute an additional $4.7 million each.

The town of St. Stephen has agreed to kick in an added $2.1 million for the effort.

No donation is too small, Fulton added. “So if someone wants to make a $1 donation or $100 donation, one time, we are welcoming that. Every dollar counts,” he said.

bdncalais@myfairpoint.net

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