NEWPORT – It didn’t matter that it was raining and cold early Tuesday morning as historians, contractors, town leaders and committee members gathered on Main Street under a red striped tent.
Supporters of the Newport Cultural Center huddled around hot coffee and doughnuts at the proposed location to thank area contractors for helping boost the total raised for the center to more than $1 million.
“We’re not holding this event to make any big announcements,” Town Manager James Ricker said. “We are here to say thank you. What we do here will benefit future generations, especially the kids.”
Local attorney Joshua Tardy told the crowd that “the backbone of communities are the libraries, museums and historical societies. This center is an example of a great collaborative effort, and I think it will redefine our downtown.”
The NCC, which will house both a new, expanded and state-of-the-art library, and the Newport Historical Society, is “a partnership of our future and our past,” Tardy said.
The center will replace an antiquated, crowded library and provide better visibility and access for the historical society and their substantial collection of artifacts, papers and objects.
The center recently was given $50,000 from the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation. That helped bring the new tally to $1,040,000. A total of $1.4 million needs to be raised so that construction can begin in the spring.
Even though the event was not a fundraiser, local businessman Frank Harding couldn’t help offering a challenge. He upped his cash donation to the center by 20 percent and asked the other contractors there to do the same. Harding also has offered to provide equipment from his rental business during construction.
Area contractors that already have made sizable donations, either in cash or in-kind work, include Bowman Bros. Construction; Gilman Electric; Condon Electric; Norman and Kim Lander; RA Paradis Construction; Newport Industrial Fabrication; Newport General Rental; Brescia Engineering Services; and Foster’s Painting.
“There are a lot of great things happening in Newport,” Tardy said Tuesday. “We have a thriving Chamber of Commerce. We have an economic development plan by our municipal leaders.
“This center will be key to marketing Newport.”