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Fundraising underway for Colton Sunday Rock Legacy Project

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COLTON - The third Sunday Rock Legacy Project in Colton is still two months away, but fundraising efforts are already in full swing.

The project combines the efforts of three organizations - the Colton Historical Society, Colton-Pierrepont Central School and the Grasse River Players - to “pursue community-based projects of historical, educational and theatrical interest.”

There is a different theme for the event each year, with 2014’s edition being “One room schoolhouses.”

In recognition of the theme, the Players will be presenting “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” on July 17, 18 and 20 at CPCS.

“(The Sunday Rock Legacy Project) got started by Bill Riehl to showcase his mother (Evelyn Riehl’s) music and writing since Sunday Rock is on the National Historic Registry. The first year they did the Sunday Rock Legacy Folk Musical,” Fundraising Co-Coordinator Scott Muller said. “Each year they want to bring something that is educational and has a historical value to the community. Last year they did the 1940s radio hour and interviewed people who were around during that time period.”

The Tony Award-winning musical comedy, directed by Kimberly Busch for the Grasse River Players, is underpinned by historical and related educational activities focusing on one-room schoolhouses.

Mary Jane Watson has been leading research about one-room schoolhouses for the Historical Society.

“The theme was the request of the Colton Museum Director Cynthia Hennessy. This year they wanted the one room schools. There were a lot within the town of Colton in the past,” Ms. Watson said. “There were 11 in the town of Colton and that was in 1900. They were scattered throughout the town.”

Ms. Watson added that in 1872 there were eight schools with 15 teachers and over 500 students, which is more than the Colton-Pierrepont Central School has today.

Costs for the weekend, which will largely be used to produce the play, are expected to total near $20,000.

“We do hope through advance ticket sales and other things we will get ample funding for the event. Clearly the show is the biggest expense,” Fundraising Co-Coordinator Ruth McWilliams said. “This is the first year that we applied to the St. Lawrence County Arts Council for a grant. For this particular project, we had never applied before. Mary Jane Watson put together the grant writing, and we were very happy with the amount.

“They said they were very impressed with the community, school and the Grasse RiverPplayers and how we will be helping these projects through this.”

The fundraising got off on the right foot when the Historical Society received a $5,000 grant from the Decentralization Program administered by the St. Lawrence County Arts Council.

“It was a very pleasant surprise. We applied for $5,000, and we would have been happy with any amount,” Ms. Watson said.

The town has also had other events recently to help garner money for the summer.

The Pratt Falls Library Mystery by Art Johnson was performed May 13 as a GRP dinner theatre at Mike’s South of the Rock Inn in the hamlet of South Colton.

“From a fundraising standpoint, we tried to have a mix of ways that people can contribute, not just hard cash. Last week we had the Mystery Dinner Theatre at the South of the Rock Inn. The balance resulted in a contribution to the Sunday Rock Legacy Project,” Ms. McWilliams said. “We’ve gotten an additional commitment. Canton-Potsdam Hospital has made a contribution and now North Country Savings Bank has contributed as well. Our deadline isn’t until June 13 for advance funding for advertisers, and we are happy that we already have two major sponsors.”

Major sponsors contribute at least $500 to the cause and that is what CPH and the bank elected to donate.

General admission tickets for “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” are $10.

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