- Associated Press - Monday, April 28, 2014

MARINE CITY, Mich. (AP) - The Historical Society of Marine City and Friends of City Hall are forming a committee to start a capital campaign to raise money to finish restorations to the city’s historic city hall.

The campaign is the latest attempt to restore the building, according to the Times Herald of Port Huron (https://bwne.ws/1nCNTmX).

The Marine City Historic District Restoration Committee is one of 75 nonprofit organizations participating in the Community Foundation of St. Clair County’s Give Where You Live campaign. The 24-hour online giving campaign is part of a national event, “Give Local America!” to support local causes and organizations and celebrate the centennial of the country’s first community foundation.

From 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. on May 6 people will be able to go online at www.givewhereyoulive2014.org to donate to one of dozens of service organizations in St. Clair and Sanilac counties.

Money the Marine City group raises during the event will be used to pay a capital campaign manager, said Heather Bokram, historical society secretary.

A capital campaign manager keeps track of the money as well as efforts to raise it.

Bokram said she didn’t know how much the capital campaign manager will cost. The group has met with John Kerr, the vice president of Novi-based Strategic Communication Solutions, and is waiting to get a price.

“He’s going to come back to us with a figure to see how much we have to raise to have his firm do the work,” Bokram said.

The city’s Tax Increment Finance Authority spent $60,000 to hire the company in November for a year to serve as a professional grant writer and lobbyist for the city to get funds to finish the City Hall restoration, as well as other projects.

Although the campaign will be guided by the manager, it will be up to committee members and volunteers to do the fundraising.

The 19th-century building, designed by the Detroit architectural firm Mason and Rice, was dedicated in 1884. It cost $12,300 to build.

The first part of the restoration project was completed this past summer. It included repairing the masonry and exterior as well as installing new doors and windows.

In April, commissioners approved $753,196.96 for the work. Money for the first part of the project came from the city’s tax increment finance authority and a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The grant was for $250,000; TIFA picked up the rest.

City officials have said Phase 2, the interior restoration, is estimated to cost between $2 million and $2.2 million.

Bokram said the group doesn’t expect to raise all of the money with the campaign.

“The capital campaign has to be accompanied by grants,” she said. “Our small community is very unlikely to raise all of the money through the capital campaign.

“The goal is to finish restoration of the inside of City Hall, and then it can be used for many functions,” Bokram said. “The city offices can go back in there, and the upper level can be used for all kinds of functions that will be used to raise money to help maintain the building.

“It’s a centerpiece in town. It’s the first thing that people see when they come to town. It’s very impressive. There are no other small towns in this area that have a building like that.”

A capital campaign for the building was started several years ago but was abandoned when city officials vacated the building in 2005. Bokram said the campaign hadn’t raised any money but did receive pledges before it ended.

Three people from Friends of City Hall and three people from the Historical Society are on the committee. Bokram said more volunteers will be needed when the campaign takes off.

Becky Lepley, co-founder of Friends of City Hall, is one of the representatives on the committee.

“We have to do something,” she said. “We can’t lose the momentum. We have the outside done. We can’t let it sit.”

In addition to donating money online in the Give Where You Live Campaign, cash and checks also can be delivered to Community Foundation volunteers who will be stationed at a tent from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the St. Clair County Community College greenway.

Another tent will be at the courtyard of the Sanilac County Courthouse in Sandusky.

Checks must be made out to the Community Foundation of St. Clair County. Include the organization the money will go to on the memo line.

Bokram said she’ll collect cash and checks for the event at the Heather House through May 4.


Information from: Times Herald, https://www.thetimesherald.com

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