By Grace Lommel: DEXTER - The long-anticipated opening of the Fossa General Store is postponed once again due to problems with funding and drainage, yet volunteer work continues.
Although funding was approved by the state this past spring for $140,000 of interior work, the check has yet to be received. "The state controls the purse strings," said Dexter Community Farm Project (DCFP) Vice Chair Dave Pearson about the delay. "So you dance the way they want you to dance."
Without the state's Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) money in hand and no approval to release the requests for proposals (RFPs) for interior work, the project has been stalled.
Then came the rain and the discovery that water was entering the Fossa store through a wall shared with the former Dexter Café building. "During that last heavy rain a couple weeks ago, it was a big splash," said DRDC Executive Director Judy Wilbur Craig of the Dexter Community Farm Project (DCFP). "One whole wall is wet and it's seeped onto the floor and into the basement. It's a huge problem."
The exterior siding and roofing renovation was completed this summer with a $230,000 CDBG from the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development.
Craig has met with the roofing, siding and general contractors several times at the store trying to identify the source of the water problem. All parties now agree that the leak is coming from the building next door. The DCFP has not contacted the architect or neighbor yet, but will in the near future.
No interior work should begin until the drainage problem is resolved, Craig stated. Meanwhile, the state just gave the store the long awaited green light to release RFPs for electrical and heating bids.
"It's been a long row to hoe," sighed Craig.
Yet volunteer work continues upstairs, an area that is not part of the CDBG. DCFP Board Member Tim Breen pulled up hundreds of usable floor boards. A five-man work crew from Charleston Correctional Center removed the two-inch long square nails from these boards, laid a subfloor and then designed a new/old floor. Fossa Member Sam Brown donated white ash boards, which the crew mixed with Breen's used ones.
The pattern of light and dark boards that the inmates laid looks like a tiger, according to Pearson. "It's very striking."
The Charleston crew also removed thousands of nails from the floor beams during their seven days at the Fossa store. "All I heard was tink! tink! tink! tink! There were nails flying everywhere," said Craig about their enthusiasm.
"It's been different," said Neal Hoskins of North Anson dryly, as he reached for yet another board in the unheated building. The crew used the bathroom across the street at the Dexter Police Station and Fossa supporters provided coffee and baked goods.
The non-profit Fossa General Store's purpose is to be a retail market for farmers' products, with as much locally grown and produced as possible. "We hope to keep local farms (25 mile radius) profitable by coordinating locally," said Pearson. Besides the sales, the store foresees renting its commercially-approved kitchen to growers to further process (value enhance) their products for sale, too.
For more information, contact Craig at 924-3067 or visit the Dexter Farm Project website or Facebook page."This content originally appeared as a copyrighted article in the SVWeekly.com and is used here with permission."
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