Time for an old-fashioned barn-raising

"You've got the materials, the tools and the skills, and your neighbors need your help.What a great opportunity to help build up a community, as the construction phase of the Marge Williams Center project gets under way.The big news is that things are finally going to start happening, construction manager Norm Down told us this week, over coffee at the Blackbird Bakery. Norm and two of our other favorite people - Wendy Johnson and Ed Kushner - were also on hand, to give us an update on the project and put out the call for volunteers.Readers already know the story: The building, located on Winslow Way across from Winslow Green, was purchased from the estate of long-time community leader Marge Williams, after her murder in 1998. After extensive remodeling, the facility will be a permanent home for five island non-profit agencies, and a clearinghouse for countless others providing services to the Bainbridge community.And as Norm said, the good news is that after eight months of fast-track fund-raising, the real fun starts in early October. That's where you come in - here's what's needed:Materials: sheetrock, windows, doors, 2x4s, metal handrails, carpeting, trusses, roof sheathing and shingles.Skills: demolition carpentry and finish work, framing, sheetrock, painting, welding, backhoe work, plumbing and gardening.A cadre of local contractors are already lined up to put on a new roof and finish other exterior projects. But hobbyists with hammers are certainly needed for ongoing work parties inside, throughout the fall.What's made me feel best is that it's a project that's gone forward on faith, Norm told us Monday. I know that what we need will show up.The drive recently hit the $400,000 mark in donations, about $20,000 short of its goal, and further gifts of cash and material can push the project over the top (decorative inscribed pavers and bricks are still for sale, by the way). A complete list of needed items, and an approximate time frame for construction, are available through the center; call Nikki Hardesty at 842-5666 to get involved.Passersby will start seeing the changes in just a few weeks, as a peaked roof goes up, the Winslow Way facade gets a facelift, and the east end of the parking area is cleared for a new community path and garden.We're excited about the Williams Center project, and we hope you'll take the time to get involved. And as construction gets under way, this strikes us as the Bainbridge equivalent of an old-fashioned barn-raising - and not just because Marge always kept the building that telltale deep red.Marge exemplified Bainbridge Island community spirit.Let's do her memory proud. "

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