September 2, 2014

Woman killed in house fire leaves $20,000 to SSCS

James Kuch
Money donated by the late Francis Toenniges will help complete renovations to the Community Service Building.
By James Kuch
Staff Writer | news@arenacindependent.com
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STANDISH — Francis Toenniges first met Standish-Sterling Community Schools Superintendent Michael Dodge four years ago.

At that time, Toenniges mentioned to Dodge that she would like to donate some money to the district.

“As a brand new superintendent at the time, I thought that would be great,” he said. “I had not heard anything from her until I got a call from the bank.”

Toenniges, 96, of Standish Township, was killed in a house fire on Friday, Dec. 10.

Dodge said that he had not heard anything from Tonnages since their meeting four years ago.

“When she passed (away) I received a call from the bank,” he said. “She decided to donate $20,000 to the (district).”

Dodge said that he did not place the name with the donation right away, but said he was “very surprised.”

“That is such a gracious donation she made,” he said.

Now, Dodge said the district will try to turn a tragedy into a positive thing for the entire community.

Dodge said the $20,000 will be used for the district’s Instructional Services Building, which is currently being renovated.

The building located next to Standish-Sterling Middle School, 3789 Wyatt Rd. in Standish, will be renamed the Community Service Building. Dodge said the building will be used for community activities and school board meetings.

“We are going to use this building as a space for the community,” he said. “We are going to have community events held there.”

Dodge said the building will have a plaque placed inside, in memory of Toenniges.

The building is currently getting a makeover, and Dodge said “there were some unexpected costs during the renovation.”

“With the donation, now we have a realistic budget.”

Dodge said that $15,000 has already been spent on renovations, including a new drainage system and repairs to a crack in a storm drain.

“There was mold in the attic and the crawlspace. All of that is gone,” he said. “There is new drainage tile around the building, and we are installing bathrooms in the back of the building.”

Dodge said he hopes Toenniges memory will carry on with the Community Service Building.

“What better way to honor her memory than to make this a community building for everyone to enjoy?,” he said.

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