It was a year ago, March 7th, when I got a telephone call from Jerry Younce, RPM Board member and RJJ musical Director. It was just prior to a performance of The Red Jacket Jamboree and his voice was so grave that I feared he had broken an arm, or maybe someone had died. Fortunately, that was not the case, but he did have bad news. Part of the roof of the former Family Dollar store, had collapsed under the weight of 8-10 feet of snow! The collapse blew out a front window sending shards of glass across the road. Fortunately, no one was hurt.
But we persisted. I contacted Joe Snow, who was the manager of the the village of Calumet, and explained our situation. Between myself and Joe, we convinced the company to donate the building AND make a separate financial contribution to pay for the roof repair.
And that's what happened. We took possession of the building in July of 2019 and Bill Darnell Construction had the new trusses installed and the roof back on in that month. We saved the 7,600 square foot historic Woolworth's building built in 1948, from demolition!
And even though we have not yet opened, the Keweenaw Storytelling Center is already making a positive impact on the community. We cleaned up the front windows, peeling off orange vinyl left by Family Dollar, and hand painted and installed 9'x12' banners across the entire front. Ever since, we've been creating window displays to celebrate the work of Real People Media and community events including:
- Red Jacket Jamboree
- Copper Dog 150
- Kraft Hockeyville USA
The empty storefront with orange vinyl, as it looked in January 2017 when it was still owned by Family Dollar. The seed was being planted for the Keweenaw Storytelling Center
- Sprayed the 7,600 square foot basement for mold
- We're removing 15,000 square foot of flooring/sub floor to reveal the original maple floor
- Removed Vinyl window covering
- Built a 35 foot window platform
- Removed pegboard from walls converting them into Christmas trees!
By the end of January 2020, Calumet had 220 inches of snow and the roof had to be shoveled three times! This winter alone, we've invested over 150 man hours to keep the roof clean!! To save costs, Jerry and I volunteered 42 hours of this time, saving RPM over $1,200. Shoveling snow is usually not the work of an Executive Director, but the experience has helped me understand the unique challenges of maintaining our building. I feel I'm able to make informed decisions about our roof in the future. But, I'm really ready to put down my yooper scoop for awhile.
Rebecca Glotfelty, Executive Director