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Water tower committee: Local businesses help raise funds through keychains

Members of Brainerd's citizen water tower committee discuss fundraising opportunities during their meeting Wednesday, May 15, at city hall. Theresa Bourke / Branerd Dispatch

Since launching a GoFundMe page last month to reach as many donors as possible, Brainerd's water tower committee has raised $845 through the fundraising website.

As of the group's April meeting, about $5,500 had come in through other donation methods, like Brainerd Community Action and the city of Brainerd's website.

Since then, several local businesses have received the committee's seal of approval and stocked up on water tower keychains, available in exchange for a $20 donation. So far, participating businesses include:

• Vicki Randall Nail Salon

• Paradigm Automotive

• Rafferty's Pizza (both locations)

• The Local 218

• CatTales Books & Gifts

• Caribbean Beach Tanning Salon.

Community events

Brainerd Community Action's Arts in the Park event this summer will serve several purposes for the city's water tower committee.

With the goal of raising both awareness and funds, the June 30 Arts in the Park will also serve as a trial run for the committee's booth at the Crow Wing County Fair in August. The group will likely need volunteers to help staff the fair booth, which will include informational brochures, keychains, buttons and a questionnaire for fairgoers to fill out and let committee members know what kinds of information they need to be getting out to the community.

Along with the fee paid for a booth in the new community corner at Arts in the Park, the water tower committee will receive a reduced rate for the Fourth of July parade, which members plan on using as an opportunity to spread awareness for their cause.

In other business Wednesday, the committee:

Learned donation bins at the registers at Cub Foods in both Brainerd and Baxter are now accepting donations for the water tower.

Learned the committee's auction items at the Good Samaritan Bowl garnered at least $250, with payments for items still trickling in. Committee member Paul Skogen will write a letter of thanks to all the businesses that donated items.

Heard from Skogen a grant application for a $20,000 grant from the Minnesota Historical Society is in the works. He is working with Rachel Bruen, facilities coordinator at Crow Wing County, who has offered her services to give the committee feedback and guidance with grant writing. The grant, which the committee must apply for by July 26, would be used for professional construction grade plans and specifications on how to fix the tower. These plans are estimated to cost about $37,400, and the Brainerd City Council has pledged to pay one-third of the cost if the committee secures the grant.

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.

The water tower committee meets at 6 p.m. the third Wednesday of every month at city hall, with the next scheduled June 19.

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 price tag could be as high as $3 million.

The water tower committee's goal is to raise at least $1.6 million in the time allotted, as that 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.

Theresa Bourke

I started at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and the Brainerd School District. I follow city and school board officials as they make important decisions for residents and students and decide how to spend taxpayer dollars. I look for feature story ideas among those I meet and enjoy, more than anything, helping individuals tell their stories and show what makes them unique.

Everyone has a story. Let us tell yours.

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