| Aug 21, 2008

Feature Article - August 21, 2008

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Feature Article - August 21, 2008 Community celebrates Expansion of North Frontenac ArenaBy Julie Druker

Arena Manager Jim Stinson and new Frontenac Arena sign.

There was good cause for dinner and dancing on Saturday night at the North Frontenac Community Arena in Piccadilly. It was the Grand Opening ceremony celebrating the arena expansion which begun in 2002.

The project was joint venture between South and Central Frontenac, and mayors Janet Gutowski and Gary Davison were both in attendance and were the first in a long line to be thanked for their combined commitment to the project.

Jim Stinson, arena manager since 1976, has been on board since the project began in 2002. He explained that at that time an arena committee was formed to address the reconstruction of the dressing rooms, which according to Stinson “were tired, very small and did not afford the necessary privacy requirements for the co-ed teams of today. The arena washroom facilities also needed renovating to become barrier free and to allow for greater accessibility.”

The project, he admits “spun its wheels for a while” since the townships first wanted to see a serious commitment from the community before they would commit funds to the project themselves.

Finally in the election year of 2006, the arena committee approached the councils once again received pledges of $200,000 over four years.

Stinson recalls, “Keeping the community interest in the project alive over that time period was a real challenge. There was interest when the ice was in, but when it was out, it was easy for people to forget about the project. It’s a big relief that we got through it.”

After drinks and dinner there was a presentation thanking the other major sponsors involved.

John McDougall, representative for the Ontario Trillium Foundation, presented Stinson with a plaque to commemorate the Trillium grant of $47,500 that the arena committee received in 2007, and which was put towards renovating the lobby and creating barrier-free washroom facilities.

Norm Guntensperger, chair of the arena’s board of directors, explained the benefit of the board’s “looking to the future” philosophy. He pointed out that along with the new construction of the dressing rooms, an entire new 2nd floor space was incorporated into the design which, when completed, can serve a variety of future sports/community related needs.

Jim Stinson then thanked the contractors involved in the project: Molson’s Brewery for their $10,000 donation, and Ken Collins, the largest individual sponsor, whose name (not by his request) hangs as a permanent fixture on one wall of the arena.

Local hockey hero Mike Smith donated a hockey jersey that is signed and framed and will hang in a special spot in the building.

Last came the unveiling of the newly finished arena sign that will hang in the renovated lobby. The sign shows players on the ice and lists all of the sponsors that donated to the project. Designed and crafted by Roger MacMunn and painted by Donna Larocque, it was months in the making and will definitely be a point of interest in the lobby entrance where it will hang.

Once the speeches ended, the band “Red Rose Express” took to the stage and dancers to the floor. Jim Stinson later summed up the general feeling of the evening, “The most satisfying thing about the project is seeing the kids of the parents who played here 30 years ago, now playing on the ice.”

He added, “Its also nice to hear compliments from visitors about the arena project itself.”

So while it seemed like a long time in the making, the completion of the Arena Expansion Project seems to have fulfilled a dream that the community as a whole has come together to fulfill.

It no doubt will serve many generations to come in the future.

And what about the name? “North Frontenac Arena” is something of a misnomer and “South and Central Frontenac Arena” while accurate would be a long winded name.

If the new sign is any indication…“Frontenac Community Arena” will be the new name.

It sure does seem more to the point and has a clear and sure-sounding ring to it.

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