Russell Jackson performed Saturday night at the newly renovated Harrison Memorial Hall

Bluesy opening for Memorial Hall

After several months of hard labour, many more months of hotly-debated planning, and countless years of wishing and hoping, the Memorial Hall has received a much-needed overhaul.

And on Saturday night, the first of many concerts in the revamped venue went off without a hitch. The Russell Jackson Blues Band played a nearly-three-hour show, with a short intermission. Before the show, and during the break, the audience got an up close look at the renovations, which included new trusses, a new roof and new ceiling, along with new, larger windows, fresh drywall and paint, new bathrooms and updated kitchen area.

The original renovation budget was $700,000, with $400,000 of that money coming from a provincial ‘Towns for Tomorrow’ grant. The Village had to contribute a minimum of $100,000, or 20 per cent of the TFT grant, said Mayor Ken Becotte. An additional $200,000 was provided from the Resort Municipality Initiative program, which are a percentage of hotel room taxes transferred to the Village from the province. Becotte said council also approved an additional $25,000 to landscape the property and install an acoustical ceiling above the stage, items which were not part of the original project. The exterior paint will be completed in the spring.

If you missed the concert, there is still a chance to get a close up look at the new hall. An open house will be held Thursday, February 3 between 1 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., with a special ceremony at 2 p.m.