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Louisiana lighthouse earns top spot in restoration initiative

It does feel good just to be nominated, especially when the winner turns out to be the most deserving of the award.

While the New Dungeness Light Station here in Sequim was a finalist in the JELD-WEN Reliable Lighthouse Restoration Initiative, the New Canal Lighthouse in Louisiana had the most compelling need for restoration.

That is why it was selected among the 12 deserving national lighthouse finalists as this year's winner of new doors and windows donated by JELD-WEN.

"New Canal has an overwhelming need for restoration," said Lynn Butterworth, JELD-WEN lighthouse project manager. "We're proud to help spearhead the restoration of such a historic and beloved landmark." The New Canal Lighthouse is located on Lake Pontchartrain off the Gulf Coast. It was nearly demolished by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and sustained even further damage in Hurricanes Rita, Gustav and Ike.

Originally built in 1838, New Canal Lighthouse was established to support maritime commerce along Lake Pontchartrain, which flows into the Gulf of Mexico.

According to American Lighthouses, New Canal is considered the nation's most endangered lighthouse. After the hurricane damage, which was deemed beyond repair, the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation was able to salvage material from the original structure to use for its reconstruction efforts. The lighthouse will be restored in 2009 with the goal of bringing back its original glory as a working aid to navigation, historical museum and environmental education center. The foundation has raised a third of the $600,000 needed to launch reconstruction.

As the winner of the restoration initiative, New Canal will receive new JELD-WEN fiberglass doors and windows made with impact-resistant glass to help the lighthouse withstand extreme conditions.

"The Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation and the entire New Orleans region are so grateful to JELD-WEN for their most generous donation of windows and doors for the New Canal Lighthouse," said Anne Rheams, deputy director and New Canal Lighthouse keeper. "This gift will help reconstruct a historic icon for the citizens of New Orleans and provide hope to an area still recovering from Hurricane Katrina."

The JELD-WEN Reliable Lighthouse Restoration Initiative began in 2005 to preserve U.S. lighthouses with the latest window and door technology and help restore the original historic architecture. Considered "America's castles," lighthouses face some of the most severe climate conditions in the world and many are threatened by age and lack of resources for restoration.

The New Dungeness Light Station, located at the end of the Dungeness Spit, initially was nominated for the new windows and was one of the 12 finalists. Citizens voted for their favorite lighthouse and the list was then whittled down to three.

JELD-WEN officials made the final decision as to the winner.

Butterworth encourages

those passionate about helping save the nation's lighthouses to volunteer, support and continue to advocate for them. Information about how to support the New Dungeness Light Station, such as volunteering to be a keeper for a week, can be found at newdungenesslighthouse.com.

And who knows, perhaps the New Dungeness Light Station will find itself among next year's nominees.

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