NORWAY — Work is being completed on a handicap-accessible ramp that will allow Western Maine Arts Group gallery patrons easy access to the building.

“We’ve been trying to get this done for years,” said Aranka Matolcsy, whose father, Lajos Matolcsy, was a founding member of the Western Maine Arts Group, along with Lee Bean and Ellie Viles.

“My father was an amputee who struggled to get in and out of that building,” Matolcsy said of the 1865 former upper primary schoolhouse on Main Street that now houses the Lajos Matolcsy arts center at 480 Main St.

The completion of a handicap ramp will also boost the group’s ability to get grant money for renovation of the building.

“It opens doors for us for grants that require ADA compliance. It’s a huge benefit,” she said.

It is hoped the ramp will be completed by Sept. 4, the date of the last show this season. The show will be a collaboration with the Commons Art Collective group who exhibit at the Fare Share Commons at 477 Main St. and will include the collection of artist Judith Schneider.

“The process of building this ramp was a great collaboration between the Commons Art Collective and the Western Maine Arts Group,” Schneider said. “When two nonprofits with energy combine forces it’s amazing what can be accomplished. When completed, both galleries will be accessible to people with disabilities. The September show at the Lajos Matolcsy Arts Center will continue this collaboration with art from members of both galleries, too.”

Eventually, Matolcsy said the two art groups hope to have a combined walk from one gallery to the other walking up the ramp to further signify the collaboration.

A large number of people contributed to the ramp’s construction including Eric Dibner of Casco, Americans with Disabilities Act coordinator for the state, and Mark Brandhorst of South Paris. Matolcsy praised Dibner’s assistance for helping to guide the group through the ADA requirements during the ramp construction.

Other donors include Don Best and his son Alex, Mike Sauro, Mike Harmon, David Newfeld and Derrick Martell.

Rock was donated by Katey Branch and the Good Life Market in Raymond.

Monetary donors include the Norway Savings Bank, Suzanne and Rupert Grover, Steve and Linda Walbridge, Connie Shorey, Grover Gundrilling, Joe Woodbury, George Viles, Western Maine Arts President Tally Decato and the Eleanor Viles Memorial Fund.

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Mark Brandhorst of South Paris, left, and Eric Dibner of Casco worked on the handicap ramp this week at the Westrern Maine Arts Group gallery on Main Street in Norway.

The original schoolhouse granite steps are being used in the construction along with granite from around the foundation of the building. The area will be made of natural materials and include a flower bed.


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