It was about four years ago that Rob Butler stood in the courtyard at City Hall and felt the seeds sprout.

People don't usually associate Rob with seeds; in fact, people really only think of Rob on skis and in snow.

Snow figured in the seeds that Rob sprouted, but steam and sprays and music also were part of the vision.

Today, the vision is a reality... a skating rink that will soon be jammed with skaters tying up laces on benches surrounding the circular pond at the courtyard at City Hall. All summer, the Concert Band entertained listeners from the bandshell on the courtyard, while the reflecting pond and its fountain gave solace to what used to be barren space.

It takes courage to come up with a vision, but it takes companionship to make it happen and Rob has been joined by dozens of people who worked to raise money for The Circle at the Centre. Built by Jim Bertram & Sons, the rink's cost came in at $660,000. So many people gave willingly to keep costs down and fundraising up. No general contractor was hired and Dan Barill, the engineer for the project acted as project manager and hired a supervisor who acted as sub contractor. Nobody marked up costs at they were passed on, a standard practice in construction circles. Simcoe Refrigeration, Lafarge, CBM, Simcoe Block... many companies squeezed their bottom line on the project to make it happen.

Fundraising volunteers included Paul Gordon, Cathy Buckingham, Wendy Massie, David Crook, Don Edward, Rick Walker... more thousands of hours of volunteer ability to raise funds for this project.

And when the first skaters hit the pond last year, reaction switched from we don't need this to it's too small!

Now, we're about to enjoy our second winter season at The Circle at the Centre. And there's one problem... the project still needs $250,000 to pay its total debt. If every person in Barrie sent $1 for each member of their family, it would go a long way to retiring these costs. Any amount of money... $1 or $50... would be welcomed by Rob and his team. Just forward it to Circle at the Centre, Box 20233, Barrie, ON, L4M 6E9. Receipts will be issued if you indicate you want one.

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