Band shell gets $47,000 donation

Efforts to save the Milaca band shell received a big boost last week.

The Otto Bremer Foundation has awarded a $47,000 grant that will fund the third phase of the “Save the Milaca Band Shell” effort — making the band shell stage accessible to people with disabilities.

The grant was written by Ardy Becklin and Lola Vedders. It was submitted on behalf of the city of Milaca.

Milaca’s historic band shell will be getting new accessibility features because of a $47,000 grant from the Otto Bremer Foundation. Times file photo
Milaca’s historic band shell will be getting new accessibility features because of a $47,000 grant from the Otto Bremer Foundation.
Times file photo

Beckin and Vedders are not strangers to writing grants for the band shell effort. They were successful in helping secure a $20,000 grant from Benton County Communications earlier this year.

“When we write a grant, we do a lot of brainstorming,” Becklin said.

When the women sat down to write the request to the Otto Bremer Foundation, they saw that the foundation favored accessibility projects, which happened to be one of many phases of the band shell project.

The city submitted a grant request seeking $47,000 for accessibility and $9,000 to construct three permanent camping sites for recreational vehicles and campers. The foundation funded in whole the accessibility project, but passed on funding the campsites.

Eyes are on building a handicap ramp that would give people with disabilities or physical difficulties access to the stage of the band shell, Becklin said. Architects’ drawings of a ramp were included with the grant application, she said, as was a history of the band shell dating back to its 1940s origin and letters of support from community leaders.

A motorized lift would also be an option if a ramp isn’t built, said Greg Lerud, Milaca city manager.

Before the grant was awarded, a representative of the Otto Bremer Foundation made a site visit to Milaca to  meet with Becklin and Lerud and see the band shell.

It was pretty nice to be awarded the grant, Becklin said.

“It’s the best one we’ve received so far,” she said.

The first phase of the Save the Band Shell project began in October 2013 with the construction of a new roof deck and roof shingles. The $16,000 project, which restored the color of the original band shell roof, was funded by donations.

Milaca based Baas Construction began work on the band shell’s deteriorated roof last week. If the funds can be raised, members of Help Save The Milaca Band Shell group hope to make many more improvements to the structure. Times file photo
Milaca based Baas Construction began work on the band shell’s deteriorated roof last week. If the funds can be raised, members of Help Save The Milaca Band Shell group hope to make many more improvements to the structure.
Times file photo

The second phase of rehabilitation, extensive stone and masonry work and tuck-pointing, will occur this year with a $20,000 grant from the Benton Telecommunications Foundation.

Benton Telecommunications Foundation awarded the grant to project leaders at the end of February. The total masonry project is estimated at $30,000 to $40,000.

Phase III will involve rehabilitating the inside of the band shell and Phase IV will be landscaping around it.