"It takes a village." That is how Lisa Daugherty, advertising director and Crown Point general manager for The Times, discussed the popularity of our mostly unknown yet extremely popular community websites we are developing on nwi.com. Her point is we have so many cool things that not only the public doesn't know about but many in our company are unaware of.
It begs the question, How do we get the word out? It's going to take all of us. It's going to take a village.
I thought of her comment Wednesday when, after more than a year and a half, the Tolleston school building was sold to the Northwest Indiana Boys & Girls Club for $1000. This is the first step in a dream of mine to provide Gary's children with a safe place to go after school, a place that will provide both educational and recreational activities. But while this is my dream and goal, it has taken a village to get us this far and will take an even bigger village to take us all the way through completion.
How many big events get announced by people in this very newspaper only to never see fruition? This isn't one of those projects. While it has taken us a year and a half to just acquire the property, there have been many other things going on behind the scenes to make this a reality, and it's time to name names.
The village has already been a very inclusive one, with many people from different walks of life helping us get to this point. I'll start with Lincoln D. Ellis, Boys & Girls Club president/CEO; Thomas Trakas, director of Facilities & Special Projects; and Benjamin Ballou, BGCNWI attorney. Hours and hours have been spent working on this project though it is just beginning.
Gary Mayor Rudy Clay has been a part of the discussion and helped by making calls to gain support for the project. Mayor-elect Karen Freeman-Wilson has voiced her support for the project. Councilwoman Mary Brown not only supports the project but held a community meeting so residents could learn what the project is about and get their questions answered. Thank you, Mary, and the residents of Tolleston, for welcoming the project.
The village doesn't stop there. The often-criticized Gary School Board approved selling us the building for $1000. This wouldn't have happened if it weren't for the tremendous support we received from current board President Darren Washington and former President Kenneth Stalling. Thank you both.
Bill Hasse from Hasse Construction walked through the building to give me a thumbs-up or thumbs-down on whether it was in good enough shape to renovate. Thanks to Jeff Wolfe from Design Organization and Scott Cherry from Skillman Corp., who have spent countless hours pro bono helping us figure out a way to build the project on the budget we have to spend.
Now that we own the building, you will soon see our capital campaign kick off. You will find our village has a large contingent of people who have been working on the project. They will really start to work raising all necessary funds.
First and foremost, Wil Davis of Gary Jet Center has agreed to co-chair the capital campaign committee and has financially supported every lunch meeting. Alison Martin, BGCNWI vice president of development and marketing, and Roy Hamilton, Purdue University Calumet assistant vice chancellor for educational opportunity programs, who is also director of the McNair Achievement Program, head up our grant committee. Leslie Kiefer, senior partner from Centier Bank, and attorney Cal Bellamy from the Kreig DeVault law firm head up our financial committee, looking at financing and the feasibility of adding a community partners wing.
Joel Gorelick, Peoples Bank president and chief administrative officer, and Robert Crookston, Microbac senior vice president of business development (who is our incoming 2012 BGCNWI board chair), will oversee and approve the spending of the capital campaign's money.
Jimmy Staton, NIPSCO CEO; Don Babcok, NIPSCO director of economic development and Mike Finissi, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer; Majestic Star Casino's Chareice White, attorney Kenneth J. Allen and Don Asher from the same firm, Northwest Indiana Times Operations Director Dominic Crews and Ami Reese, graphic artist manager, are all either working on securing funds or providing creative support for the project, as well as other campaign committee members, including William Lindburg from MacLennan & Bain Insurance, and Thomas McDermott Sr.
As the chair of this project, you will be seeing regular -- and I do mean regular -- updates on this project. In the coming weeks we will announce sources of some of the funding and will be asking you to help our village grow. We need financial support, donations of labor, materials and volunteers to work cleaning up the building.
If interested in joining our village, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Lincoln D. Ellis at email@example.com. But don't worry if you miss this opportunity. You will be given several more opportunities.
Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all.
Bill Masterson Jr. is publisher of The Times Media Co.