By David Fenker
WABASH COUNTY- Several members of the Lagro Canal Foundation appeared before the county commissioners Feb. 12 to ask for assistance.
The foundation, formed in April 2017, seeks to revitalize the Town of Lagro by restoring three of the town’s oldest buildings – Citizens Bank of Lagro, the Masonic Lodge and the IORM (Improved Order of the Red Man) – all located in a row on Washington Street.
Beth Gillespie, president of the foundation, informed the commissioners that an anonymous donor offered a $20,000 matching grant to help put roofs on the buildings, a project which she said is estimated at $50,000 total.
“We have until June 30 to raise the match,” she said. “We are looking to the county commissioners to invest in our endeavor, to allow us make these buildings thrive and generate tax revenue in the county.
“While we will be extremely grateful to any amount you provide to us, we are asking for $20,000 to allow us to get the buildings secured with a new roofing system.”
The foundation, she said, hopes to work on the roofing project this summer.
Gillespie said that, once the project is complete within the next two years, the foundation hopes to attract a variety of small businesses to the buildings, including a destination restaurant, a cafe and shops – all of which, she noted, will provide tax revenue for the county.
Additionally, she said, the second floor of the buildings will be apartments by 2019, and one first floor space will be used as an event and fundraising hall.
According to Gillespie, volunteers have spent more than 200 hours working on the buildings, hauling off several loads of debris and steel for scrap.
A structural engineering study and architectural analysis have already been performed, and the same architect will draft floor plans, she said.
The foundation is working with the Lagro town board to seek Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs grants, has received grants from Heartland REMC and Beacon Credit Union, is planning fundraisers and has received 501(c)3 status, according to Gillespie.
In addition to the foundation’s project, Gillespie highlighted the recent improvements along the riverfront in conjunction with the Wabash River Trail project, as well as several Lagro and Lagro Township buildings currently under renovation.
The commissioners took the request under advisement, and thanked the foundation for their work.
Additional news from Monday’s meeting included:
− approval of a road cut permit for Norfolk Southern to replace a tile under 200 West north of 1400 North,
− appointment of Brian Haupert to the Local Emergency Planning Committee and the Emergency Management Agency Advisory Council,
− an unofficial jail report of 94 inmates in Wabash County Jail, 43 in Miami County, three in Blackford and one in safe keep from Sheriff Bob Land,
− and a request for use of the Roann Covered Bridge for a July 14 wedding.