This Messenger article from Dec. 5, 2014 shows the importance of the Kraft Hockeyville contest for Highgate Arena, with up to $150,000 on the line and an opportunity to host an NHL preseason hockey game. Voting continues for one more day at www.krafthockeyville.com, with Highgate Arena in the final 10 nationally. 

HIGHGATE — November’s vote in Highgate, which narrowly approving a $990,000 bond to help pay for a new refrigeration system at the Highgate arena, will stand.

The date to file a petition for a revote passed Thursday, said town officials. Voters approved the item 498-481 on Nov. 4.

The refrigeration system will no longer be functional after this year, when the Freon it uses will become unavailable, explained Kim Gates of the Highgate Arena Renovation Team.

The new refrigeration system will require an upgrade in the electrical system. The arena was awarded a $25,000 state grant last week to help pay for the electrical improvements.

In addition, the town has a $196,000 federal grant for the arena that must be used next year or it will be lost.

Finally, Sticks & Stuff, a local business, purchased $110,000 in equipment from an arena that was closing and donated it to the Highgate Arena.

In total, the renovation project will cost about $1.3 million.

Along with the bond, the town will hire a full-time person to manage the arena, which for the past three years has been run by volunteers from the Missisquoi Area Hockey Association (MAHA). MAHA has been able to realize a profit on the arena’s operations, with those funds used to make improvements to the arena.

The new staff person will be paid out of the proceeds of the arena operations and any profits will be placed into a maintenance reserve fund. “We want to be financially responsible and set aside funds for future maintenance,” said Gates.

MAHA and HART will conduct a capital campaign to raise funds for additional improvements. “There’s a list,” said Gates, including bleachers, alarm panels, locker rooms and the entrance.