Members of the Birch Hills community gathered at the Birch Hills Arena Jan. 4 to recognize the generosity of a local family.
Tyler Cochrane, president of the Birch Hills Arena, told paNOW a donation of $250,000 was made by Brian Hesje.
“In January of last year we decided to put an entry into Kraft Hockeyville. When the final four were announced and we realized we weren’t one of them it was kind of disappointing, but a couple of days after I got a phone call from Brian Hesje,” Cochrane said. “He lives in Alberta now but he grew up in Birch Hills, and had seen on the news we were vying for the Hockeyville, and when he saw we weren’t in the final four he asked what he could do to help out.”
Kraft Hockeyville is a national-annual promotion held to supply funds to communities throughout Canada with a focus on hockey. The promotion sees one community receiving $250,000 to support hockey within the area.
“From there him and his brother Morris Hesje, who lives in Prince Albert, they came out and met with myself and some other members of the rink board and the mayor of Birch Hills and kind of discussed what we were looking for,” Cochrane said. “Then he wrote us a cheque for $250,000.”
The donation, which was made in June, was used to complete work related to drainage issues within the rink according to Cochrane.
“What we ended up doing was digging down four feet, and installing all new weeping tile to properly drain. We did four inches of insulation and all the refrigeration lines and headers,” Cochrane said. “Doing all this we’re expected to cut our power and energy bills by about 60 per cent.”
The ceremony held Friday to recognize the Hesje family for their donation saw nearly 200 people show up in support.
“We actually ended up with four generations of the Hesje family on the ice for a ceremonial puck drop, and presented them with a plaque in recognition of their donation,” Cochrane said. “They wanted to basically put money back into the community that they call home.”
A surplus of money remaining from the donation will be used to continue operations within the Birch Hills arena.
On Twitter: @TheDigitalBirdy
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