Tuesday, October 21, 2014

‘Project Petunia’ sponsors needed

“Project Petunia” is in danger of being scrapped this year if the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce can’t get more sponsors by May 9.
The annual beautification program sees flowers placed in planters and hanging baskets in parts of town.

Chamber manager Annely Armstrong-Thorstad said the problem is “Project Petunia” sponsors have dwindled in recent years, meaning the Chamber has had to pay out of its own coffers to keep a full complement of planters and baskets full of blooms for all to enjoy.
Many more sponsors are needed to carry on this season.
“The last two years, it’s cost the Chamber quite a bit to make that happen and we just can’t do it anymore,” Armstrong-Thorstad lamented.
“We don’t get our tourism money anymore and that kind of stuff,” she noted.
“With all the cutbacks, we just don’t have the funds to be able to do it.”
Armstrong-Thorstad said it’s been donations from local residents, particularly seniors, which had been supporting the program, but not too many businesses.
“It’s getting to the point where we just don’t have that anymore,” she reiterated, noting the only choice the Chamber has this year is to see how much donations it can raise by May 9.
After that point, the Chamber will use the money raised to buy as many flowers as it can—even if it’s not enough to fill all 18 planters and 50 hanging baskets which have adorned the 400 block of Scott Street, as well as the “gateway” area at Mowat Avenue and Church Street, and along Central Avenue and King’s Highway west to Tim Hortons.
“Most people do not realize that it’s Chamber that pays for all those flowers,” Armstrong-Thorstad said.
“The BIA does the 100, 200 and 300 block [of Scott Street] but the rest of them come from the Chamber.”
She added the Chamber is appreciative that the town waters the flowers each season.
The need for funds for flowers is dire.
As of yesterday, the Chamber had just $250 to pay for flowers this season—a $50 donation from Susan Bodnarchuk of Holmlund Financial and a $200 donation from Kathy Judson of Re/Max.
Judson has challenged other businesses to step up and match or beat her sponsorship.
It costs about $50 to put flowers in each planter and basket.
“We would love to see this project go forward again this year, as this beautification project has become an important part of who we are and how we present our town to locals and to visitors,” said Armstrong-Thorstad.
She noted any donation amount is welcome.
“We get so many so compliments from tourists and locals alike,” Armstrong-Thorstad added.
“When you’re sitting at that four-way, the planters are just gorgeous.
“When you drive in from the west end and you come through, and there’s all those baskets, we get compliments on that all the time.
“I would really hate to see that go away,” she stressed.
Businesses or individuals able to assist in purchasing flowers for the upcoming season are asked to contact the Chamber at 274-5773 or via e-mail at thefort@fortfranceschamber.com

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