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Registration party will make or break RR Curling Club this Friday

By Ken Johnston

This Friday will be a critical day for the Rainy River Curling Club. With declining membership and rising operating costs, the local curling club has decided to hold a registration party to see if there is enough interest in the sport to keep the facility open this year.
Last Thursday they held a public meeting at which sixteen members of the public and eight club board members attended and discussed options for the club. Club President Ralph Armstrong opened the meeting by outlining operating costs for a typical curling season. Last year gas was about $5,000, electricity was about $11,000, phone was $515, insurance was about $1,200, and various other costs brought the total up to about $20,000. Based on last year’s dues they brought in about $12,000 but other money makers, the annual bonspiels did not realize their fullest potential. The Boxing Day bonspiel and Men’s bonspiels did not happen. Typically those events help the club raise money to cover the operating deficit.
No financial report on the total year of operation for the bar and canteen were available at Thursday’s meeting however they did say they cleared about $1,000 at the Mixed Bonspiel and about $500 at the Ladies Bonspiel.
So what needs to be done? The club executive has decided that with rising costs, especially energy, they have to raise dues. This year Men’s and Ladies’ league members will pay $170.00. That is up from $135.00 last year. However, to make that easier to handle, the club will allow it to be paid in two installments, one this Friday and one in mid to late January. “That will make it easier for people to afford and give them a bit of room after Christmas to pay for second half.”
Friday night open league dues are a bit less at $150.00 for the year ($75 each half). Curlers who are in one of the other leagues only have to pay $50 more to join the Friday league for the year.
Anyone wishing to be a spare will pay $100 for the year ($50 per half). High school students only have to pay $85 for the year and Junior curlers will pay $50 for the year. There is also a non-curling fraternal membership of $35 for the year.
To try and get old curlers to return to the game and to encourage new ones to try the sport, the club has decided to offer an incentive discount. “If you have not curled before or since the 2003-04 season your dues for the year will be $85,” explained President Armstrong. The next year they would pay normal dues.
He said Friday that the club feels if they can get 12-15 mens teams, 8-12 women’s and 6-8 on Friday open league they will have enough support to keep the club operating this year. Last year they only had 9 mens, 6 womens and 6 open teams. So this Friday evening at 7 p.m. they are opening up the club room and having a registration party. Food and beverages will be available.
“This registration party is very important as the club will only be open this year if the number of entries is great enough to be viable,” said President Armstrong.
Other ideas to help with the costs of running the club included hosting a monthly community fundraising dinner at the club or installing a jukebox to keep patrons entertained while at the club, hence keeping them there longer spending money.
Soliciting sponsors to support the club was also suggested. It was decided that once they see if there are enough people interested in curling to keep it open that perhaps a fundraising committee could be struck to work on all options.
Executive member Murray Aikenhead said, “The key is we need $10,000 over and above what we have now. Without knowing where that is coming from we can’t start the ice (making process).” With that in mind anyone interested in curling needs to go to the registration party at 7 p.m. until close this Friday at the Rainy River Curling Club on Highway 11.
Executive board members will be on hand to take registrations and answer any questions curlers might have. Junior curlers’ parents can come Friday and register their kids as well.
For people who have some physical limitations the club does have some equipment such as push sticks to help them out.