December 20, 2006

Article from The Review

Tower project receives another $35,000

VANKLEEK HILL – The Higginson Tower Restoration Project received more good news last week when it learned that it would receive $30,000 for construction/restoration work from the Prescott-Russell Community Development Corporation (Community Futures). The funding announcement comes on the heels of Champlain Township’s $25,000 contribution $25,000 to the tower restoration project, and a November 28 announcement of$24,400 from the Ontario Trillium Foundation. The Prescott-Russell Community Development Corporation (Community Futures) will also provide $5,000 to the Higginson Tower Committee for an interpretive program for visitors to the restored tower. There is currently a roof on the lower stone portion of the 175-year-old tower, which has had four support pillars installed. New World Timberframes has been hired to build the inside framing of the lower portion of the tower and to install the staircase to the first platform inside the existing portion of the tower, which will be 52 foot high when it is complete. Champlain Township agreed to take ownership of the tower in February 2006, in response to a request from the Higginson Tower Committee. The committee spent about two years working out the legalities of having the tower and a portion of land donated to the township by Phil Arber, finalizing an agreement with the Anglican Diocese and the St. John the Apostle Anglican Church congregation to permit access to the site and ensuring that a zoning amendment was in place for the land-locked property. Once restoration of the tower and the site is complete, the tower will be a heritage tourism venue, along with the completed Vankleek Hill Museum, Archives and Visitor Centre. Since February, the tower committee has raised about $94,000 from fund raising activities, direct solicitation and voluntary donations from the public, including a tower day at Scotiabank, which generated about $16,000 in all, including $5,000 in matching funds as part of Scotiabank’s Team Scotia Community Program. Corporate donations of $1,000 each, founding family donations of $500 each, the purchase of cobblestones at $100 each and miscellaneous donations continue to arrive by mail daily, says committee treasurer Gayle Renwick, of Wagar and Holland, an accounting firm in Vankleek Hill. The deadline for all donations is February 28, 2007. In addition, many donations of “in-kind” services and materials have made the project move forward, says committee co-chair André Martel. In-kind services donated to the project include engineering fees, gravel, legal fees, architect fees, concrete and site clearing, just to name a few items, says Martel. The stone portion of the tower was restored last summer at a cost of about $43,000, after a small-scale archaeological dig. Construction of the top portion of the tower, along with the interior staircase, should take place this winter and be complete in about three months’ time. Because of the new funding, the Higginson Tower Committee is hoping to award the contract this week, so that work can take place during the winter. The original grist stone from the tower, which served as a wind-powered grist mill in its early days, has been lowered into place inside the tower. The last few weeks have been busy ones as far as the Higginson Tower is concerned, Sproule said, adding that within a few weeks, more construction photos of the latest projects will be posted on the Higginson Tower web site, along with more information on construction.