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Ponoka Lions asks town to take over bus program after loss of major fundraiser

Members of the Ponoka Lions Club came before council on May 10 to ask council if the town would be interested in taking over their community bus program.
The concession building was built in 1954. (Facebook photo)

Members of the Ponoka Lions Club came before council on May 10 to ask council if the town would be interested in taking over their community bus program.

The Community Bus Program has been running since 1975 and the Lions are hoping to keep the service in the community.

Over the years seniors, schools, churches, recreation and youth groups and other service organizations have used the bus for various functions.

Members Don Bergsma, Jerry Kawamura and Larry Henkleman presented to council. The two reasons they gave for needing to find new stewards of the program were loss of funds and aging volunteers.

The longstanding food concession building on the Ponoka Stampede Grounds was dismantled and removed on April 23, presenting a hardship for the Lions, as running the concession was their major annual fundraiser.

The Lions said without those funds, they are unable to cover the operating costs of the bus so are looking for someone to take over the program.

According to the Lions Club, they have been operating the Stampede food concession for over 70 years.

“They been really good to us and we want them to succeed so there’s not much we can do about that,” they said, about the Stampede’s decision to remove the building.

According to Ponoka Stampede Association (PSA) president Jason Cline, the decision was made mainly because of the age of the building and health and safety reasons.

Built in about 1954, the food concession stand was one of the oldest buildings on the grounds.

Cline said there were health code issues and it would not have passed inspection again. Rebuilding it was also not an option.

The PSA is now working on a plan to move food concessions into other locations, utilizing other buildings and spaces. One option may be putting a food concession under the main grandstand and along the main grandstand.

They also plan to offer more food options at this year’s Stampede.

Cline said removal of the building was discussed with the Lions at their meeting in March, and other opportunities for serving food were presented to them.

“We rely on the support of local clubs in the community and continue to support local clubs,” said Cline in an interview.

“In no way did we make that decision to hurt a club or take anything away from them.”

He added that any clubs or local groups looking for fundraising opportunities with the Ponoka Stampede can contact the rodeo office and they will be put in touch with the right person.

The partially dismantled concession building. (Facebook photo)

Emily Jaycox

About the Author: Emily Jaycox

I’m Emily Jaycox, the editor of Ponoka News and the Bashaw Star. I’ve lived in Ponoka since 2015 and have over seven years of experience working as a journalist in central Alberta communities.
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