The hub of Heather­ton

Com­mu­nity cen­tre con­tin­ues pro­gress­ing

The Casket - - Front Page - RICHARD MACKEN­ZIE richard­[email protected]­cas­

You know you have turned the cor­ner on progress when you go from be­ing the one ask­ing all the ques­tions, to be­ing the one oth­ers are di­rect­ing their ques­tions to.

That’s the case for the board of di­rec­tors of the Heather­ton Com­mu­nity Cen­tre which, over the last few years, has made the tran­si­tion from ele­men­tary school to a multi-use fa­cil­ity, serv­ing as a gath­er­ing spot for com­mu­nity res­i­dents, those in District 7, as well as sur­round­ing districts in Antigonish County.

Board chair Mal­colm Mackin­non talked about the progress while prais­ing the neigh­bour­ing county com­mu­nity cen­tres for their aid early on.

“When we first went through the fea­si­bil­ity stud­ies, look­ing at tak­ing over this build­ing as our com­mu­nity cen­tre, we had a lot of help from sev­eral other com­mu­nity cen­ters; St. Josephs, Lake­vale, Harve Boucher, St. An­drews,” Mackin­non, talk­ing to the Cas­ket Nov. 21, said.

“They all gave us a lot of great feed­back as to lessons learned, what they were do­ing with their fa­cil­i­ties, how they were mak­ing them work. From that, we used a lot of that in­for­ma­tion to help us with this fa­cil­ity.

“Hav­ing said that, as we’ve been get­ting our­selves es­tab­lished, we’ve been con­tacted by other com­mu­ni­ties out­side of Antigonish County and have pro­vided them with knowl­edge we’ve gained, lessons we’ve learned, to see if that would help them with their fa­cil­i­ties.”

Mackin­non said it “seemed like a big un­der­tak­ing” in Jan­uary 2013, when a fea­si­bil­ity study group was formed to look into mak­ing the tran­si­tion, af­ter a Strait Re­gional School Board vote the pre­vi­ous year was in favour of clos­ing Rev. H.J. Macdon­ald School.

He talked about meet­ings with com­mu­nity mem­bers where a de­sire to keep the build­ing op­er­a­tional was ex­pressed and fundrais­ing ef­forts were or­ga­nized.

Is the fa­cil­ity com­pleted, this many years later?

“It’s get­ting there,” Mackin­non said.

“There was a lot of wants and needs put down by the com­mu­nity; could you use it for dry stor­age … a day­care? A num­ber of dif­fer­ent ini­tia­tives [ex­pressed]. Right now we’re, slowly, pro­gress­ing to that point, which is work­ing out rather well.”

Amongst the im­pres­sive tran­si­tions pieces es­tab­lished in the build­ing is two for­mer class­rooms serv­ing as a fit­ness cen­tre, a large, well laid out kitchen and new

LED light­ing through­out the build­ing.

Mackin­non said the build­ing will al­ways be, some­what, a work in progress, as dif­fer­ent needs arise for the com­mu­nity and sur­round­ing area.

“Be­yond my time [as board chair], they’ll still be go­ing on with this build­ing … pro­gress­ing,” he said.

“There will al­ways be changes. It’s al­most like eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment; we’ll be chang­ing as the econ­omy changes. There might be changes with this fa­cil­ity even with the fa­cil­i­ties com­ing to Paqtnkek [Mi’kmaw Na­tion]. There could be changes with that; maybe some­thing in con­junc­tion.”

He noted the build­ing has re­placed a lot of what Maple Hall used to pro­vide for Heather­ton.

“The big­gest thing was, when we’re look­ing at the ex­ist­ing fa­cil­ity in the com­mu­nity — Maple

Hall — this was go­ing to end up be­ing the re­place­ment,” he said.

“That fa­cil­ity al­ways pro­vided for the com­mu­nity a kitchen fa­cil­ity, a lo­ca­tion to hold ban­quets, cel­e­bra­tions of peo­ple’s wed­dings, an­niver­saries, birth­days and such; that was the vi­sion for this build­ing, tak­ing the place of that fa­cil­ity.”

The Heather­ton Com­mu­nity Cen­tre is a busy spot with a school pro­gram oc­cu­py­ing one of

the class­rooms, weekly crib games on Satur­days, bingo on Sun­days and the nu­mer­ous rental of spa­ces, in­clud­ing youth par­ties which of­ten in­clude tak­ing ad­van­tage of the gym area for a game of ball hockey.

The fit­ness rooms also see a lot of uti­liza­tion and a swipe key sys­tem in­stalled al­lows mem­bers ac­cess at times con­ve­nient to their sched­ule.

“For our ex­er­cise rooms, with mem­ber­ship we pro­vide cards with swipe ac­cess,” Mackin­non said. “It pro­vides more flex­i­bil­ity as to the time mem­bers would like to come and work out. The fa­cil­ity is open Mon­day to Fri­day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; be­fore that time, the swipe key al­lows them to have ac­cess to the ex­er­cise room.”

Fund­ing ef­forts

Amongst the fundrais­ing which con­tin­ues to main­tain the fa­cil­ity, there are spe­cial events like trivia nights, con­certs and dances. An an­nual fundraiser which has grown to be­come quite pop­u­lar is the Club 500 Draw which sees 500 tick­ets sold for $100 each and then 50 cash prize draws from Jan­uary to May (dates in 2019 are Jan. 11, Feb. 8, March 16, April 12 and May 10).

Each draw event in­cludes eight draws for $200, one for $500 and then one higher amount on dif­fer­ent nights ($5,000 Jan. 11, $1,000 Feb. 8, $2,500 March 16, $1,000 April 12 and $5,000 May 10).

One of the com­mit­tee mem­bers of the fundraiser, Carolyn Day, said while it didn’t start out in this man­ner, the draw nights have be­come spe­cial events, com­plete with mu­sic, card games and the bar be­ing opened.

“It’s an in­vi­ta­tion to any­body to come and wit­ness the draws,” Day said. “It’s a nice so­cial event and a thank you to peo­ple for buy­ing the tick­ets.”

She noted, at this point (Nov. 21), about half the tick­ets were sold and, now in its fourth year, tick­ets have proven to be a pop­u­lar Christ­mas gift. Folks in­ter­ested can con­tact her at 902-867-0130, Joan Jamieson at 902-870-9335, Marla Tate at 902-968-1031 and e-trans­fers for ticket pur­chases are ac­cepted at heather­ton­com­mu­[email protected]

It’s noted as well that there is the chance a per­son’s ticket earns them mul­ti­ple cash prizes as, even as one is drawn, it’s then re­turned to the col­lec­tion with the op­por­tu­nity to be picked again.

“Peo­ple have won mul­ti­ple times,” Day said.

For more on the cen­tre, visit its Face­book page and con­tinue to check in for its up­com­ing web­site.

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