By Diana Bowley of the Bangor Daily News - DEXTER - Years of neglect because of tight municipal finances could have driven town officials to demolish the town hall, but instead the old building got a face-lift.
There was no way residents or officials wanted to lose the vacated historic building that had been used by children for roller skating, by teenagers for dances, by senior citizens to stay healthy and by the town for voting and other municipal business.
Thanks to a federal grant, the town hall received a face-lift that will ensure its use through another decade. An open house is planned for residents to see the renovation work completed on April 27 and 28.
"We see this as an opportunity to make active our community center again at a time when we’re tying to create recreational opportunities for our folks in town," Dexter Town Manager Judy Doore said Friday.
The town received a $165,000 grant from the Department of Economic and Community Development, which was matched with $41,500 in local funds, to install an elevator to the second floor to make all of the building accessible to handicapped people, and to do some structural work on the porch. The latter work is expected to be completed within the next few days.
The interior of the hall is being painted by inmates from the Charleston Correctional Facility.
One major project that remains is an upgrade of the heating system, which is expected to cost approximately $7,500. Because town officials want to re-establish the town hall as a polling place, the council voted Thursday to apply for and accept a state grant of $3,500 from the secretary of state for voting improvements. The funds, if awarded, will be used toward the heating system improvements, Doore said.
To add to the heating system fund, town employees and firefighters will serve a spaghetti feast in two seatings, at 5 and 6 p.m. Friday, April 27, in the town hall as part of the open house festivities. Admission is by donation. The proceeds of a dessert auction to be held prior to the dinner also will help the fund, according to Doore.
Doore said a ribbon-cutting ceremony would be held at 10 a.m. April 27 followed by tours. At 7 p.m., a 50-50 drawing will be held with a lucky ticket holder taking 50 percent of the proceeds. The remainder will benefit the senior center that town officials hope will resume in the town hall. Refreshments will be served throughout the day.
On April 28, there will be a baseball and softball clinic from 9 to 11 a.m. followed by roller skating from 2 to 4 p.m. Skates that were refurbished by volunteer Rick Munday will be available for rent at $1 a pair.
A teen dance for children in grades five through eight will be held from 7 to 10 p.m.
Local businesses have donated all of the food for the public dinner and the Snack Shack, which will be open for Saturday’s activities.
"This truly is a community effort," Doore said.
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