October 31, 2014

Penny drive for historic courthouse more than halfway to goal

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OMER — A penny drive started by the Arenac County Historical Society is more than halfway toward the society’s goal of one million pennies. The money raised is going toward mortgage payments for Ye Olde Courthouse in Omer.

After beginning the penny drive nearly three years ago, Brenda Matt, chairperson of the Ye Olde Courthouse Committee, said the society is determined to reach its goal.

“Our original goal was to raise the money within a year,” she said. “We don’t give up easily.”

Currently 633,000 pennies have been raised by the society.

Matt said the Arenac County Historical Society purchased the courthouse when Robert and Carol Britt wanted to sell it several years ago.

“They bought the courthouse and took care of it,” Matt said. “They were ready to do something with it and sold it to us because they knew we wanted to preserve it also.”

After beginning to raise money through fundraisers, she said the bank gave the society the money they needed to purchase the courthouse. Matt said the courthouse cost $85,000.

Ye Olde Courthouse Committee Secretary Phyllis Klender said after money raised through sales and donations, the Arenac County Historical Society owes around $25,000.

“We have been raising money from junk sales and bake sales,” she said. “We have $7,000 from money that people have just given us.”

Matt said some artifacts at the courthouse are more than 100 years old. Klender said that at one time the courthouse was a Masonic Lodge.

“There is a lot of history there,” Klender said. “It’s an amazing building.”

Matt said the society has been receiving tremendous support from the community.

“This is one of the few buildings in the area that are over 100 years old,” she said. “It’s important to preserve it.”

Matt said over the course of the year the society hosts around 12 events.

“We are hosting a Christmas open house the first weekend of December where we will have a candy sale,” she said.

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