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The refinished Arbutus Room (over the Pioneer Room) in Manson's Hall is available for small group meetings and activities.
General News · 26th May 2014
John Sprungman
If you take the opportunity to have a good look around Manson’s Hall, you’ll see that the organizational efforts and hands-on work of a great many people over the last few years have given new life to our community centre. Since last July, major improvements have been made in the playschool, both upstairs rooms, both main floor offices and the bathrooms and hallways. All of the renovations were done with the help of grants, individual donations of money and materials, and hundreds of hours of volunteer labour.

The Southern Cortes Community Association, which owns and operates the hall, was fortunate to receive almost $250,000 in grant funding for renovations in the last year, half of it from federal government programs for infrastructure improvement, enabling accessibility and New Horizons for Seniors. The Cortes Island Seniors Society’s support was important in winning these grants. We are especially grateful to Sandra Wood for her skilled and professional grant writing and reporting and her continued dedication to finding funding sources for SCCA projects.

Thanks to Cortes Regional Director Noba Anderson who wrote letters of support for grants and who managed to make federal gas tax funding available to non-profit societies, enabling the SCCA to receive about $84,000 in funding to install five heat pumps which are now are the hall’s primary source of heating and have the capacity to cool the hall as well. They have greatly reduced our furnace oil consumption and our overall heating costs.

We were fortunate to receive almost $36,000 from the Tides Foundation as a result of Julian Ayer’s proposals for renovations to the playschool and to the old library room, now leased to the Lakehouse Learning Society. Another $8,000 toward those renovations came from the Coastal Community Credit Union’s Legacy Fund. Our thanks to Gary Cork who represented Cortes on the Legacy committee.

Extensive renovations require a lot of on-the-spot decisions. Jean Fontaine and his Blue Moon Woodworks crew solved every problem along the way, including challenging repairs to meet a structural engineer’s specifications. Jean’s construction knowledge and management skill made for steady progress while still allowing the community to use the hall for many activities. The projects provided employment for dozens of islanders. Many of them donated some of their time or worked for less than their usual rates. Jean donated more than 100 hours of his time and many materials and also trucked supplies from Comox weekly without charging for hauling or ferries.

The Blue Moon crew included Ro Gagnon, Sebastian Laberge, J.P. Lafortune, Eli Morris, Holger Schramm, Marc Provencher, Max Lee, Eddy Mitchell, John Muldoe, Toby Roman, Mike Bullock, Dan Van de Laar, Chris Walker and Steve Mawdsley.

Jim Kearney built and hung the new exterior doors on the main hall and playschool with help from Ian le Cheminant, Tom Bohart and Ali Lennox for less than his original estimates. Local sawmill operators Bruce Ellingsen, Ron Wolda and To’q Woodworks at Klahoose provided lumber at reduced rates, and Dan Van de Laar did the same with drywall finishing and painting. Dan and Scotty Martin dealt with the challenges of replumbing the bathrooms, also donating time. Ted & Carol Hansen and Izaak Tidler came on short notice to make electrical changes.

The SCCA’s renovations committee chair Jim Murphy, who donated his time and talents in the Pioneer Room, main hall kitchen and post office in previous years, volunteered this spring to oversee the finishing of the bathrooms and what we are now calling the Arbutus Room above the Pioneer Room. David Rousseau provided essential cost estimates for grant applications and helped install the new metal partitions in the bathrooms. Eddy Mitchell, our general maintenance man whose specialty is flooring, installed the finish floors in the playschool, Lakehouse room, the bathrooms and the Arbutus Room which is now available for rent for small group meetings and activities. Mark Appleyard helped with the floor repairs and David Drysdale helped repaint the Arbutus Room.

The main hallways were repainted by volunteers Ann Dewar, Lynn Marttila, Mary Lavelle and Steve & Gail Ringwood. Steve also donated his time and crane truck for lifting and hauling throughout the renovations. Clyde Dawson and Tyler Vega helped repaint the playschool. Doug Brown at the U-Brew provided free storage for playschool furnishings while the room was being redone. Howard Eaton donated insulation and sound-proofing. David Rousseau, Barry Gregory, David Shipway and Trygve Ellingsen contributed their construction knowledge to planning and estimates.

Eva and Buddy Parker reduced the cost of rooms at the Cortes Island Motel for our off-island heat pump contractors. Dieter Broemer of Nova-Tech HVAC Services in Fanny Bay and sheet metal technician Frank Van Den Diggelaar efficiently and expertly installed the heat pumps for less than their original estimate. Mel Dery of Quadra Island Electric gave us the lowest quote for our new 400-amp electrical service and did a professional job quickly.

Andrew and Kelly Ferguson allowed waste wood from the renos to be burn-piled on their property. Thanks to John Messent, Dave McCoy, John Vosper and Robbie Driediger for machine time and materials and to Myrna Kerr for donating new opening windows for the playschool. Jim, Mark Christian and Dave Popkey turfed out the café kitchen and Real Dufresne hauled away the old main hall oil furnace and junk appliances. The Cortes Connection and Lane 8 brought us parts and materials from Campbell River. Apologies to anyone whose help I’ve overlooked.

This year’s renovations allowed us to complete the space shuffle which began with relocating Cortes Radio to the portable building two years ago and creating the new post office last year. The SCCA now has long-term leases with Cortes Radio, Lakehouse Learning Society, Reel Youth and Postmistress Jaime La Grandeur and ongoing rental agreements with the Friends of Cortes Island, the Pottery Guild and the Cortes Seniors.

All of the programs and uses of the hall would not function smoothly without the regular attention given to the hall by the SCCA’s part-time, paid staff. Hall manager Mary Lavelle and assistant Mark Christian, bookkeeper Marilyn Fitzmaurice, janitor Josee Gagnon and Eddy Mitchell on maintenance do excellent work and are essential to a community centre that is being used almost every day of the year. It was a challenge to keep operating during construction, and they met it. Each one of them deserves our appreciation for their ongoing dedication and adaptability.

The members of the Board of Directors put a lot of energy into finding ways to finance the things that need to be done and into making decisions in the best interests of the membership. They also donate their time and skills to improving the facility and how it operates. As president of the SCCA for the last three years, my special thanks to directors Julian Ayers, Myrna Kerr, Jim Murphy and Desta Beattie for their years of service and to Diane Daly, David Drysdale, Mags Johnston and Cathy Winter for joining us last year. Cathy took on the treasurer’s responsibilities last September, and her accounting knowledge and experience improved our systems and greatly helped with our grant reporting.

At last Thursday’s AGM, Jim, Cathy, Desta and I retired from the board. The continuing directors are Julian, Diane, David, Mags and Myrna. Jenny Hartwick and Andy Vine were elected to the board. I am confident that with so many capable people committed to using and maintaining Manson’s Hall, it will serve us well for many years to come. Finally, thanks to my wife Sherry for her support, patience and good advice throughout the four years I was on the board.