A look back – marking the opening of the new Town Office on the corner of Main Street and 49th Ave. in 1966

The opening was attended by deputy premiere A. J. Hooke, who acted as the main speaker at the ceremony

It was a warm Wednesday in May 1966 when people gathered to witness the opening on the new Town Office on the corner of Main Street and 49th Ave.

One block of Main Street was closed off for the event which marked the completion of the major civic project which had started in 1965.

The opening was attended by deputy premiere A. J. Hooke, who acted as the main speaker at the ceremony. The honourable Mr. Hooke was a former resident of Halkirk and would later reminisce about his high school days in Stettler.

He was introduced by former Mayor Walter Kloepfer, who was head of town council for nine years, and involved in much of the planning of the new administration facility.

Mayor Robyn W. Sloan, who had assumed the position roughly a year earlier, and had sat on council for some time before that, acted as the general chairman.

In addition to administration space for the Town, the $123,000 building also included space for the local library, which would operate out of the basement.

There were also spaces available in the basement for public meetings. The cost of the building was financed through loans from both the provincial and federal government, and their various development funds.

Councillor F.E. Gaffney, who was the chairman of the building and finance committee, spoke briefly of the cost and related items for the new building.

A representative of Stettler’s own Saracen Construction turned over the keys for the Town Office to Kerry Bissell of the Red Deer Architecture firm Bissell & Holman.

Bissell then turned the keys to the building over to Mayor Sloan.

Bissell would also present councillor F.J. Crawford with a pewter crest made to resemble the coat of arms of Swiss founder Carl Stettler. This would sit on the outside of the building near the main doors for many years and is currently on display just inside the current town office.

Other gifts to mark the occasion would include a contribution from the president of the Stettler and District Board of Trade and Agriculture Mr. Brian Johnson.

Mr. Johnson gifted the town with a framed photo of the very first town council from 1906. I believe this is the photo that is now on display at in the museum courthouse, but don’t quote me on that.

Town Manager Mr. E.H. Meeres also donated the block and gavel that would be used in council chambers.

The new one-story structure would replace the previous administration office which had served the community for over 50 years.

The new town office was a large undertaking by the community. It had originally been estimated that the new building would cost the town $93,000.

In a presentation to the board of trade, Town Manager Meeres explained that it had been estimated that the building would cost $65,000, the lot was another $13,000 and the furnishings were put at the $10,000 mark.

The federal government approved advancing the building cost, plus a rebate of 25 per cent.

Mr. Meeres informed the board of trade that even with the Alberta Municipal Finance Corp. handling the balance at six per cent, once everything was said and done the interest would only add approximately one mill rate to the town’s tax rate.

Budgeting problems quickly appeared when local firm Saracen Construction came in with the lowest bid tendered at $113,000, leaving the Town several thousand short on the already approved loan.

The increased cost was explained as simply the increased cost of construction throughout the country.

A vote was held by the Town to approve the increased cost and the additional money was taken on loan.

Although I have not been able to find any articles detailing the need for more money after the $20,000 increase from the original estimate, since it appears to only be in the range of a $10,000 difference, it may not have required community approval and therefore never made the news.

With my luck, as soon as this article goes to print, I’ll find all kinds of information on the last leg of funding for the building.

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