Blindman Hall receives financial boost from Ponoka County

After several setbacks Blindman Hall Society is receiving a $20,000 grant from Ponoka County to help finish their additions project.

After several setbacks Blindman Hall Society is receiving a $20,000 grant from Ponoka County to help finish their additions project.

In 2010 the Blindman River Community Hall Society decided their small yet active hall needed additional room, especially for storage.

“The main part of our hall needed to be added on to and our kitchen needed to be a little bit bigger so that we could have larger functions,” society president Irene Steeves said.

On the north side of the hall, the board decided to add 12 by 35 foot for storage and on the east side another 20 by 48 foot addition was planned.

Contractor Dwayne Smawley of Jazzie Builders, Bluffton, was hired for the project. “He has done a lot of work in our hall,” said Steeves.

“He is very good as our contactor,” she added.

Along with using resources from different accounts the Blindman River Community Hall Society has fundraised approximately $40,000 for the hall’s additions.

Smawley quoted the price of the project at $64,524. “Right then and there we knew we did not have enough money in our account to be able to finish this project,” said Steeves.

The society applied for a provincial Community Initiatives Program (CIP) grant. Winter passed with no real progress on the project. “In July 2011 CIP notified us that our application had been reviewed and we did not receive it.”

The Blindman River Community Hall Society also wanted to apply for the community spirit program.

However, due to the provincial government’s large deficit the $15 million program was cut this year.

Steeves said they decided to have the contractor work on the inside of the hall through another winter, removing the old stage and other smaller projects.

“He did that . . . He did not come back to our hall until July (2012) to start working on our hall again,” said Steeves.

The project moved slowly and pumps had to be brought in because the ground was so waterlogged.

Before the third winter Smawley had erected four-foot cross walls, flooring and started on the addition on the north side of the hall.

For the additions, Steeves says the hall and the contractor didn’t use blueprints. “What we had to have is a drawing of what our footings would be and what our walls would be. That was all we needed to do our additions.”

On May 2, 2013 Smawley email Steeves saying he wouldn’t be able to finish the job; she believes the decision was tied to family reasons.

“Being no blueprints, nothing, it’s all in his head; we had to get another contractor,” said Steeves.

Python Contracting Ltd, along with Rimbey Builders, was brought onto the contract and priced the project at $18,000 for materials and $20,000 for labour.

Combining two accounts the society was using to pay for the additions totaled only $40,258. “And if you take the estimate here that’s $38,603. That doesn’t leave us very much. We still have to pay for our electrician and to do the inside of the hall,” said Steeves

The grant won’t completely pay for the rest of the project but will ensure the hall is able to pay to the point that the hall’s additions are functioning.

“I guess one of the principles that we’ve always had is helping communities that help themselves and you folks aren’t coming with a blank slate, you’ve actually been obliviously fundraising for quite a few years,” said Coun. Paul Payson.

To date, $33,218 has been spent on the additions project.

“The other thing I would like to mention is that we are out in the west part of the county of Ponoka and we have a lot of — I’m not going to say vandalism — as much as things beings stolen. It’s really bad out our way,” said Steeves.

The hall uses interior and exterior cameras but about three weeks ago the exterior camera was knocked down and stolen.

Like they’ve recently done for Liberty Hall Ponoka County decided to cover Blindman Hall’s contraction insurance. “I think that goes without saying we should cover this as well,” said CAO Charlie Cutforth.