May 23, 2018
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Houlton Rotary Club prepares for 55th auction

By Jen Lynds, BDN Staff

HOULTON, Maine — Members of the Houlton Rotary Club were gearing up Thursday for the start of the organization’s most lucrative fundraiser, which will begin Monday.

The 55th annual Houlton Rotary Radio & TV Auction will take place Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov. 22-24. The event will air 6-10:30 p.m. each night on WHOU Radio 100.1 FM and on Houlton Cable Channel 13. The auction is held at Watson Hall at the Episcopal church on Main Street, and the public is welcome to attend.

For three days during the week of Thanksgiving, the club holds the auction to give the public a chance to bid on items contributed each year by local businesses and individuals. This year, the club has more than $60,000 worth of items to bid on, Nancy Ketch, a longtime Rotarian, said Thursday.

While proceeds from the auction benefit several activities, the club selects three primary projects to fund with the proceeds each year. This year, major projects are the Northern Maine Soapbox Derby, Cary Library and Riverfront Park.

Organizers of the derby are hoping to construct a new building at the top of Derby Hill, while the library wants to digitally archive older issues of the Houlton Pioneer Times, the town’s weekly newspaper, for its files. Riverfront Park, which surrounds the pedestrian footbridge, has developed significantly over the past few years. It has been outfitted with picnic tables, lighting, a walking trail and a staircase to connect that trail to Highland Avenue, but members of the riverfront committee are hoping to make additional improvements to the park. Committee members would like eventually to construct restroom facilities and fund additional landscaping projects. Money from the Rotary auction will bring these goals closer to fruition.

Ketch said other projects that will benefit from auction proceeds are the Dollars for Scholars, Rotary Youth Exchange, Student Recognition Day and The Salvation Army.

Items up for grabs this year include a leather jacket, a handcrafted children’s table with two chairs, an iPod touch, area rugs, bikes, a quilt, an art supply package and a wooden rustic bed frame.

Bidders have a chance to secure a package from “The Colbert Report,” the satirical television program on Comedy Central hosted by Stephen Colbert, which includes an autographed photo.

Houlton Police Chief Butch Asselin, who is also a Rotarian, donated the items to the auction after participating in a segment for the show earlier this year.

The auction features high-value items during each night of the auction. Among this year’s contributions are an 18-foot-by-24-foot camp package from Ward Log Homes, a student-built playhouse and a pellet stove. Other items include a Bison pump, snowblowers, chain saws, hardwood flooring, an entertainment center, a computer work station, a soapbox derby car kit, a Suzuki helmet, an ice auger, fencing, area rugs, a settee combo, a nine-piece queen-size comforter ensemble, LSL lumber, a man’s watch, 100 gallons of fuel oil, a kayak, sanding and refinishing of a hardwood floor, and a “Boy and the Boot” picture.

The Boy and the Boot Endowment Program is another part of the annual auction. Individuals may call in during the option to make a $1,000 pledge toward a statue. The money goes to the endowment fund of the Houlton Regional Health Services Foundation, which raises money to benefit both the hospital and area health care.

Individuals will be able to call in during the auction to sponsor an auditorium seat to help provide new seating for the Houlton Community Arts Center project. One seat may be sponsored for a $300 pledge. Two seats may be sponsored with a $550 pledge. Three seats or more may be pledged at $250 each. All sponsors will be recognized by name plaques on the seats and a recognition plaque in the facility.

Bids may be made for any items by calling the Rotary auction room at 521-0086. Those outside the local area but in-state may call toll free at 866-239-3914.

Information is available at

Successful bidders may pick up items at the auction storeroom located at Watson Hall in the Episcopal church on Main Street. The storeroom is open during the auction from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily and the three days after the auction. Specific hours are listed in the auction supplement. All items should be picked up by the close of the storeroom at 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 27. The storeroom phone number is 521-2979.

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