Fries closer to revamping its community center

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Gray siding to replace brown cedar shingles on exterior walls



By Shaina Stockton


FRIES -- The Fries Community Center is one step closer to getting a shiny new makeover, thanks to a recent donation of siding material from a company in Pulaski.

Mayor Richard Farmer confirmed that James Hardie Inc., a construction and remodeling company, has donated materials to replace the old siding on the community center building.

The material has already been brought to the town, and Farmer says the next step is securing funds to install it. He noted that the material is enough to cover most of the building, if not all of it.

“Last (month), we got a message that there was an order for us,” Farmer told The Declaration.Randy Lineberry had transported the material to Fries on April 23. “We believe it’s probably around 27,000 pounds of material that we’ve picked up. It was all free, and we thank them for that,”

Farmer said that the donation was the fruit of several weeks of positive discussions with the company. Two months ago, Farmer’s wife, Judy, was at a meeting when she met a woman who was familiar with the town, Farmer said.

“[The woman] had come to Fries in the past, biked on the trail, and loved the town,” Farmer said. “My wife talked to her about the possibility of us working on a project to make repairs to [the building], and the lady suggested that we try Hardie.”

(Farmer did not provide the woman’s name, due to what he said were privacy concerns.)

Farmer contacted the company, and they began having discussions about the center. “We pursued the contact, and Hardie was extremely helpful. The person we were in contact with began to work with us, and we had another individual who was a contractor in the area give an estimate of what it would take to cover it.”

The contractor gave an estimate of $80,000 for the project, including materials. Farmer noted that this was a rough number, and that the town is unsure what the cost would be for just installation. “With a building this old, and this size, you never know what you will run into,” he said.

Now that they are sitting on the material, Farmer says that he and town officials are in the process of securing funds for installation. “We’ve sent out a lot of letters to the community, and outside the community, to get donations to [complete this project],” Farmer said.

He announced that one event is already in the works -- a 4-7 p.m. May 23 fundraising fish fry at Fries School, with all proceeds from the event to be used for the project.

The new siding will continue an ongoing mission for the Fries community. Farmer, the Fries Town Council and the Fries Community Center have held many discussions about restoring the building, which serves as the heart of the riverside town.

“The material is 14-inch siding, which is a very durable product once it’s up, and it will last for a long time,” Farmer said. “The color on the siding is gray. We may try to paint it, but that’ll be another cost we will have to do later,” he said.

He added that several people had requested that the building be restored to the same shade of green as it was years ago, and that he was favorable in that request.