ESCANABA - The city of Escanaba was recently given a generous donation that will go towards a community project that's been long overdue.
Council officially accepted a $150,000 gift from John and Patt Besse of Gladstone during its regular meeting Thursday. The funds will be used to upgrade the bathrooms and locker facilities at the Bonifas Civic Center.
"When the Besses visited the civic center, they were very concerned. They have such big hearts in wanting to give back to the community," commented Recreation Director Tom Penegor.
In a letter to council, John and Patt Besse stated, "We are interested in projects that benefit both the young and the old. The Bonifas Center is a second home to thousands of young people and seniors every day and critical to the community."
Penegor explained the Besses had walked through the community center last spring and saw that the 45-year-old building needs to be upgraded.
The bathrooms are not handicapped-accessible and there is only one locker room, Penegor pointed out. The sign on the locker room door is switched between the men and women's use, he said.
Bathroom upgrades and a second locker room have been on the recreation department's plans for the past two decades, Penegor added. The current locker room will also be renovated; costs permitting, some windows may also be replaced at the civic center, he said.
The Besses are providing $50,000 to start the project this year and will give donations of $50,000 both in 2013 and 2014, said Penegor.
"This is a tremendous value to the community," he added. The center is visited by people more than 90,000 times a year, he said.
In other business Thursday, City Manager Jim O'Toole updated council on the sale of the power plant. The city and Escanaba Green Energy are expected to finalize a draft of the purchase agreement today.
Council's final review and approval of the agreement is scheduled for Wednesday with closing of the deal expected this fall, he said. Council will meet with the Electrical Advisory Committee at 6 p.m. Wednesday at city hall.
Council approved street closures for Sidewalk Daze on July 27 and a Christ the King Lutheran Church Sunday School Rally on Sept. 9.
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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143, email@example.com