The hub of Heatherton
Community centre continues progressing
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.”
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.