Joe Busha, right, of Gaffney-Busha Funeral Home, presented Larry Snedden a check for $3,000 for Save the Dome.
Joe Busha, right, of Gaffney-Busha Funeral Home, presented Larry Snedden a check for $3,000 for Save the Dome.
Nicolet National Bank in Eagle River helped raise more than $85,000 for the Save the Dome campaign durings its special fundraising promotion in September.

Larry Snedden, vice president of commercial lending at the bank, said the bank matched up to $25,000 in donations to the Save the Dome campaign during the month.

“We easily surpassed the $25,000 match from Nicolet, taking in a total of $60,590 in donations from the community,” said Snedden. “So during the month of September, the campaign brought in a total of $85,590.”

The Eagle River Recreation Association (ERRA) is trying to raise $774,000 to make major renovations at the Eagle River Sports Arena, known as the Dome. The project includes replacing the failing in-floor cooling system in the facility, as well as the boards and glass around the rink.

The ERRA kicked off its fundraising campaign in December of 2018 and has raised more than $349,000 as of last week. The ERRA was given a $200,000 loan to get the project started and a group of nine local community members have signed a second $350,000 loan to make sure the project is completed by Nov. 1 — the approximate start of the 2019-’20 hockey and figure skating season.

Sparks offer match

Snedden said the campaign could get another boost during October, as the Sparks family announced it would match up to $20,000 of donations collected from the community during the month.

“In September the Sparks family asked me how our match program was going and I told them the $25,000 goal had been met, so they decided to offer the $20,000 match in October in honor of Bill Sparks Sr.,” said Snedden.

Sparks, an ERRA founding father, was committed to growing youth hockey in Eagle River throughout his lifetime. He volunteered endlessly, working on projects in the Dome, including the original artificial ice installation and improvements. He also pioneered the Summer ERRA Hockey School and worked as a member of the  school board to bring back high school hockey in 1969.

Sparks also was well known for his years of coaching all levels of hockey with numerous trips to Madison for State Championship playoffs. He also was inducted into the Wisconsin Hockey Hall of Fame.

Sparks is survived by his wife, Edna, and sons Bill and Joe, who went on to play at St. Mary’s University and Michigan Tech, respectively. They continued their father’s passion for the game volunteer coaching for 25 years.

“If the community comes through with $20,000 in donations for the Sparks family match of another $20,000, that would be $125,000 in total donations in two months,” said Sneddedn. “That is incredible community support.”

Snedden said donations can be made to Save the Dome, Nicolet National Bank, P.O. Box 1559, Eagle River, WI 54521.

For more information, donors can call Snedden at (715) 479-8484.