Volunteer Bureau looking for funds

Duane Hicks

The Fort Frances Volunteer Bureau is hoping the town can find money in its 2017 budget to give them a helping hand.
This includes a one-time grant for $20,000 to help cover the cost to repair the roof on the old CN station, said Matt Soprovich, the new executive director of the Volunteer Bureau.
He noted the roof has needed to be replaced “for quite some time.”
“To continue the operations and the programs that we do, we need a building that’s functional,” Soprovich stressed.
“That’s one of the chief issues we’ve been working on to try to get the money for the past year-and-a-half,” he added.
While the Volunteer Bureau has been raising some money, and secured $20,000 in capital funding allowance from the Ontario Heritage Trust most notably, the cost to fix the roof has been quoted in the $40,000-$48,000 range.
“We’ve got a little ways to go,” conceded Soprovich, adding the bureau continues to apply for other grants.
For the town’s part, the Volunteer Bureau is asking for $20,000.
“We also recognize it’s a challenging economic time for this town and this council,” said Soprovich.
“Anything’s appreciated.”
He pointed out the train station is more than 100 years old.
“It’s a very rare building in Fort Frances. They don’t make them like they used to,” Soprovich remarked, noting the Volunteer Bureau’s board of directors wants to see it “continue to stand and to serve the community for many a year to come.”
The Volunteer Bureau also is working on converting back to natural gas to save money on heating costs.
The problem is that to get permission from Union Gas, they need to build a new walkway so the furnaces situated on the roof can be maintained, Soprovich explained.
Assistance of $3,000 would help to make this happen and cut operational costs for the building.
The Volunteer Bureau also owes some property taxes. While the board is making progress addressing that problem, it is asking council to consider any sort of tax forgiveness or reduction going forward.
The Volunteer Bureau’s main two initiatives are the income tax program and community Christmas dinner, and council also was asked for $6,000 to help with programming costs.
Soprovich said one way the public can help out the Volunteer Bureau is by attending “Mardi Gras” at the Copper River Inn next Saturday (Feb. 25).
The event will feature New Orleans-inspired food like oysters and crawfish jambalaya, live blues music, and a silent auction.
Cocktails are at 5:30 p.m., with dinner at 6:30 p.m.
Tickets cost $50 each, with $10 from every ticket sold going to the Volunteer Bureau to help save the CN station’s roof.
Tickets can be purchased at Copper River Inn or from any Volunteer Bureau board member.
Council, meantime, will consider the Volunteer Bureau’s requests during its 2017 budget deliberations.