The citizen group raising funds to save Brainerd's historic water tower is up to $5,516 and continues working to meet its goal before October 2020.

After forming in October of last year to try to raise funds for the costly repairs needed to save the downtown icon, water tower committee members have met monthly to develop awareness and fundraising methods.

Though $5,500 is just a fraction of the roughly $1.6 million the group hopes to raise in the next year and a half, members have no shortage of ideas.

A water tower run is tentatively planned during the Brainerd Jaycees Street Fest in July, with proceeds benefiting the tower, and the group also has the opportunity to set up booths at Brainerd Community Action's Arts in the Park event in June, and the Crow Wing County Fair in August.

And in the nearer future, water tower efforts may be highlighted at next month's Good Samaritan Bowl event at Jack's House.

Committee member Paul Skogen said during a meeting Wednesday, April 17, the committee was asked to contribute five items for the event's silent auction. Proceeds are split 50-50 with the Good Samaritan Society.

"It's not a big money maker, but it's awareness," Skogen said. "Our name is out there."

Grants

Rachel Breun, facilities coordinator at Crow Wing County, met with the committee Wednesday to offer guidance on grant-writing.

Having written the 2017 proposal for the grant to restore the Crow Wing County Historical Society Museum, Breun said she can answer questions and offer information and feedback as the committee works to apply for the same grant from the Minnesota Historical Society. The county agreed to Breun's involvement with the water tower project at no cost to the committee.

She suggested the committee start writing its grant proposal as soon as possible, as they plan to apply for a grant from the Minnesota Historical Society in July.

The group also has high hopes of getting a $25,000 grant from the historical society to draw up design and construction plans for the water tower's renovation after the Brainerd City Council pledged $12,500 in matching funds during its meeting Monday night.

Last month, council liaison Dave Badeaux told the committee they likely would not be able to get any large grants without specific plans on how to fix the tower, should enough money be raised. He believes the group now has a good chance of getting that first grant, which could lead to bigger funding opportunities.

In other business Wednesday, the committee:

Heard a GoFundMe page is set to launch Friday, giving anyone interested the opportunity to donate to the tower online.

Discussed making brochures with information on the water tower to hand out at events, like Arts in the Park or the county fair.

Discussed options for taking part in the Brainerd Fourth of July parade, such as walking with a water tower banner to raise awareness.

How to get involved

Cash or check donations for the water tower can be dropped off at or sent to Brainerd Community Action, 213 S. Fifth St., Brainerd, MN, 56401. Checks can be made out to Brainerd Community Action, noting in the memo area the donation is to save the water tower.

Donations can also be dropped off at Brainerd City Hall, as long as they are earmarked for the water tower. Debit and credit card donations are now accepted through the city's web store at https://cityofbrainerd.revtrak.net. There is a 3.61% service fee to donate online.

Those who donate $250 or more in cash or check will be eligible for refunds if enough money is not raised in the time allotted. Other donations, including all of those paid through the city website, will go to Brainerd Restoration.

Anyone with fundraising ideas or donations for the Good Sam Bowl silent auction can contact the water tower committee through Brainerd City Hall.

The water tower committee meets 6 p.m. the third Wednesday of every month at city hall, with the next scheduled May 15.

Meetings are open to the public and allow time for public comment.

Water tower background

Stucco falling last year from the historic water tower on the corner of Washington and South Sixth streets in downtown Brainerd prompted city officials to explore repair options for the iconic structure.

With similar issues in the past, the 100-year-old tower faces the possibility of demolition if the funds needed to repair it are not raised by October 2020.

The water tower committee's goal is to raise at least $1.6 million in the time allotted, as that, Badeaux said, would give the city a base to start and the opportunity to explore other options-like a referendum-to raise the rest of the funds.