Blueberry benefit for Wilton library is Saturday

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WILTON – Picking blueberries on Saturday will not only reap the benefits of the super-blue fruit, but will also benefit the Wilton Free Public Library as well.

On Saturday, Irv Faunce and Jan Collins will open their Wilton Blueberry Farm in East Wilton to pickers and will donate all of the proceeds to the library. It’s a tradition the couple started in 2005.

“One of the first things we did when we moved here was to go to the library and we were warmly welcomed,” Faunce said. “It’s a real community center and we want to support it.” In the first year, $1,200 was raised for the library. The next year, nearly $1,000 was given and last year, the farm opened its fields for the benefit despite it not being a good year in Maine for blueberries.

This year, however, is a great, bountiful season with lots of berries just waiting to be picked and a library just waiting to complete its renovation’s fund raising.

In what started 10 years ago to raise the $500,000 needed to provide complete handicap access for library patrons and expand to create mezzanine space for young adults has been come down to the final $30,000 stretch of fund raising.

Wilton Free Public Library director David Olson, at left, stands beneath the new mezzanine above.

The renovations on the 92-year-old historic building have been completed, save for more shelving and furniture to be added. The project ended up costing more due to the rising costs of construction materials, said the library’s director, David Olson.

“The costs went up tremendously in just the last year,” Olson said. Of the project total of $500,000, a Community Development Block Grant of $100,000 was awarded to help pay for the extensive renovation work needed to update the building to the American With Disabilities Act’s requirements that include an elevator that makes four floors of stops. The rest, $400,000 had to be raised locally.

The renovations have worked out quite well and have received a great response from library patrons, Olson said. The mezzanine floor was built to expand the space for young adults “to study or just hang out,” and is surrounded by age-appropriate reading materials and computer stations.

“There are more young people using the library which is what we wanted,” he said. “It’s very gratifying.” In addition, the ground level access has made going to the library convenient and easy for both those who are disabled and the stroller set. And a genealogy reading room is in the works in the librarian’s former office on the main floor.

Now that the work has been completed and is appreciated, the final fund raising is at hand. Donations can be made by picking blueberries on Saturday at the Wilton Blueberry Farm and/or filling out a pledge card while there or at the library. Or, just send a check to Wilton Free Library, P.O. Box 454, Wilton, ME 04294. Be sure to earmark it for the renovation project.

Olson said the Wilton Blueberry Farm’s donations over the years has been a big help in purchasing materials for the library.

“It’s a very generous gesture on their part and we really appreciate it,” he said.

For more information on the fund raising efforts, call Olson at 645-4831. The Wilton Blueberry Farm is located at 83 McLaughlin Road, off Old Route 2 in East Wilton. Look for the farm’s signs and please bring your own containers.

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