June 25, 2018
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County business fundraising drive aids arts center

By Jen Lynds, BDN Staff

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — A local business that celebrated its birthday by launching a monthlong initiative to raise money for a popular children’s arts center has given a sizable gift to the facility.

In celebration of 30 years in business, insurance company Barresi Benefits Group asked for the public’s help in December to raise money for the Wintergreen Arts Center. The center in downtown Presque Isle is undergoing a major renovation.

During the first 30 days in December, the company sought to raise $3,000 through donations. Barresi Benefits Group pledged to match the donations dollar for dollar up to $3,000, with the hopes of raising $6,000 or more for Wintergreen Arts Center.

Nathan Berry, director of finance for Barresi Benefits Group, said Wednesday the fundraiser generated a total of $7,000 for the arts center. The public pitched in $4,000 and Barresi Benefits Group added $3,000.

“We were very excited to see the response to our campaign for the Wintergreen Arts Center,” said Berry. “We received donations ranging from $20 up to $500, with donors including our own staff, clients, strategic partners, and people who just wanted the opportunity to see their donation go further via our matching funds pro-gram.”

The Wintergreen Arts Center, a nonprofit organization, set up shop in the Aroostook Centre Mall in 2006. The center offers art classes, performances, and other popular seasonal events for children and adults. The facility has been a magnet for youths who have flocked to the facility to draw, paint, make gingerbread houses and decorate pumpkins.

Officials announced last November that the center would move to 149 State St.

Tony Burgess and Glenn Capp purchased the two-story State Street building last year and offered the WGAC a 10-year lease. Under the proposal, the WGAC will not have to pay rent for 10 years, and the building owners will pay the utilities for the entire term of the lease.

Ever since the move, the center has delayed most of its activities and concentrated efforts on fundraising to renovate and establish the new facility. A capital campaign was launched to secure $106,834 to accomplish the goal.

So far, the center has raised more than $89,000.

At this point, the center has nearly completed work at its new location, and some programming is going on inside the facility.

The new arts center will increase its handicapped access and will provide visitors with a quiet place to relax, read and write.

A playhouse will be used for small theatrical and puppet show performances, and a fully furnished art studio will be located in the rear of the building. The studio will feature a chalkboard or white board, easels, art supplies, a children’s gallery with a window seat and other equipment.

Officials also hope to outfit the center with a snack bar, a landscaped walkway and other features.

Artwork created by visitors will adorn the walls.

Berry said the payoff to the center was “well-worth all of the hard work and energy that went into the entire Wintergreen Arts Center project.”

“If you drive by the center late afternoon, a spot in downtown Presque Isle that was dark for years, it is now lit up with lights, and children inside participating in the after-school programs,” he said. “We feel that we have a real asset in downtown Presque Isle that hopefully will be a fixture for many years to come, and we were very pleased to be part of it.”

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