What started as an $85 traffic ticket turned into $500 to help provide Johnston High School with a new sound system, Mayor Joseph Polisena explained during a recent interview at .
Here's how it happened, according to the Mayor: A woman stopped by Johnston Police for running a red light appealed the guilty ruling she'd received at . When her case reached the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal, a judge there ordered the woman to pay $500 to an organization in Johnston.
"I got the call asking me where the money should go, and I thought of J-DAPA," Polisena explained, referring to the Johnston Drama and Performing Arts group, one of three organizations looking to raise more than $18,000 to install a new system in the JHS auditorium.
On Tuesday morning, Polisena presented the check to J-DAPA Director Donna Tellier and her husband, Ron, joined by school committee Chairwoman Janice Mele, committee member Robert LaFazia, and Supt. Dr. Bernard DiLullo.
During an interview after the presentaton, Donna Tellier explained that the funds will bring J-DAPA one step closer to making the sound system a reality.
"Being $1,000 short [of J-DAPA's original goal], we were like 'Yes!'" Tellier said, adding that the Johnston High School PTSO and Johnston Music Association are also working to raise money for the sound system. "We lead the mission off, and it was taking much longer than we had hoped — we didn't know it would be that expensive — so we approached the other organizations, because they use the auditorium, too."
J-DAPA has been at work for at least the last year seeking donations and holding performances at the high school to raise money for the system.
The PTSO has also been hosting fundraising events at the high school — including last December's and the recent show featuring "The Deaf Comic" Mike Murray — to cover its share of the cost.
Tellier explained that the Music Association also pays for the high school band's trips — meaning any extra money that J-DAPA raises will preserve those opportunities for the student musicians. And the JHS Class of 2012 made its own donation toward the work, Tellier noted.
"Every little bit helps," Donna Tellier explained, adding that the groups are still working to raise money over the summer so that the installation can be completed in time for the start of school in September. "We're pushing for that."
PMA Industries of Johnston is providing the equipment, which will include a sound booth, a 24-channel mixing board, and new speakers in the auditorium, Ron Tellier said.
Donna Tellier said that the best way to make donations is by mail, to:
c/o 11 Simmons St.
Johnston, RI 02919
Find out more about J-DAPA, including photos of their recent performance of The Story, by visiting the J-DAPA Facebook page.