The Emo spray park committee has reached its fundraising goal of $150,000 thanks to a $20,000 donation from former district residents Rob and Liana (nee Hyatt) Frenette.
“We’re ecstatic about this,” said spray park committee chair Lincoln Dunn.
“Obviously for us, this is fabulous,” he enthused. “It gets us so close, we’re practically done with our fundraising at this point.”
The donation brings the total amount raised to $150,000—meaning any more money raised can go towards a contingency fund, Dunn noted.
“I think that we’re probably hoping to raise about another $5,000 or so, just to cover off any unanticipated expenses at this point,” he explained.
“But we’re pretty close, we’re really close.
“This comes as a great relief to all of us on the committee because it means a lot less work for us over the next two or three months,” Dunn added.
“[It’s] a big initiative for such a small community to undertake so I’m finally in a position in my life where I can help out, so it’s nice to be able to do that,” Liana Frenette said about the donation made by her, her husband, Rob (formerly of Fort Frances), and their children, Joe, Sarah, and David.
The family now resides in Thunder Bay, where the Frenettes run their own business (TBT Engineering Consulting Group).
“Part of what we do believe is that businesses should give back to and support the community,” Frenette said.
“And even though our office is in Thunder Bay, we work all over Northwestern Ontario, so we try to give back where we can to the communities that we work in—and we were just fortunate enough to be able to do that.
“It’s a way to give back to a community that’s been good to me,” Frenette added, noting she usually makes it back to the district at least once a month (her parents currently live in Barwick while her grandmother resides in Emo).
“My Grandpa Marshall Hyatt used to say that once you get the mud of the Rainy River District on your boots, you can’t shake it off,” Frenette wrote in an earlier letter to the spray park committee.
“I can honestly say that I have never been able to shake it off.
“I have many fond memories of days spent in Emo during my youth with my grandparents and parents, and warm memories of all the people and business leaders in Emo,” she stated.
“We continue to regularly visit the area, and the Emo Fair is still very much a tradition for my family.
“I am sure that the children of the district will enjoy the park, just as we did in our youth,” Frenette continued.
“Hopefully this will assist in creating fond memories of Emo and playing on the banks of Rainy River for years to come.”
The donation has also come as a thanks towards Liana’s parents, Mark and Carol Hyatt, and grandparents, John and Marcine James and Marshall and Maggie Hyatt, for “all the support they have given [her] over the years in [her] personal development and more recently in the development of TBT Engineering.”
As part of this acknowledgement, Dunn noted there will be memorial/sponsorship bricks in their honour.
These bricks will join the numerous other ones that community residents have purchased, and which will be embedded in the overspray area around the outside of the park.
“We really want to acknowledge that [Thunder Bay-Rainy River MP] John Rafferty was at least partially responsible for making this happen,” Dunn said.
“Because I know that he’s been in conversation with business folk and with government folk, and had been trying to access additional federal funding for us in the project, which he was not successful with [so far].
“[But] he’s been fantastic in continuing to advocate on our behalf—it was his direct contact with Rob and Liana that made this possible,” Dunn stressed.
Completion of the spray park is anticipated later this year once the ground thaws and construction can be finished.