SKOWHEGAN — A foundation established by the former president and chairman of Shaw’s Supermarkets is donating $15,000 toward the installation of a sprinkler system at the Skowhegan Opera House.

The Davis Family Foundation, of Falmouth, notified the town of the award in a letter dated March 18.

The state Fire Marshal’s Office gave Skowhegan town officials three years to install the system in March 2009. The overall cost of installing the system is estimated at $130,000 for the entire building, which also houses Skowhegan municipal offices and the Police Department. The estimated cost of the sprinkler for just the Opera House is $45,929.

“If we don’t have a sprinkler system, they’re going to shut us down completely; it’s not going to be used for anything,” Opera House manager Cara Mason said earlier this year. “We hold our town meetings there, and our local dance recital people would be out — they would not be able to have a place for recitals.”

The Davis Foundation is a public charitable foundation established by Phyllis C. Davis and H. Halsey Davis to support educational, medical, cultural and arts organizations located primarily in Maine, according to its website.

The foundation was established following H. Halsey Davis’ retirement. The goal of the foundation is “to make grants where they will do the most good and where our gifts make a real difference.”

The foundation has provided more than $41.5 million in grants since activities began in 1986 in support of educational organizations. Grants are not made to public elementary and secondary schools, nor to schools whose financial support is derived primarily from a church or other religious organization.

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