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LOWELL, Mich. — It was a packed house at Larkin’s Other Place in Lowell. People from Kent and Ionia County
came to show support and chip in to help rebuild Whites Covered Bridge.
The live music proved to be the perfect pitch to community members. It drew scores of people to the fundraiser and kept them entertained.
Tacos were the main course. Keith Salters cooked behind the scene and tried to keep up with the fluctuating crowd.
He is among the many people with a connection to the bridge.
“We moved back here from Ohio and [the bridge] something I remember in my childhood traveling over many times, and I wanted to go see it again,” Salters said.
He recalled, “I was getting ready to get my camera out and went over… and it’s burnt.”
July 7th, the historic bridge was found destroyed. It had burned to the Flat River below it.
Investigators determined the 146-year-old structure was the target of arson.
“It shocked me, and I guess that whole sadness of it and the history gone forever,” Salters said.
With the help of several sponsors, events like this one will offer people the opportunity to give. An inmate in Muskegon County painted a rendition of the bridge as an auction item.
Christine Baird is president of the fundraising group. She said it will cost just under $300,000 to rebuild the bridge. The goal is to raise the money in about a year.
“Dan Vos Construction Company is planning to build the new bridge. Ionia County Road Commission will maintain the bridge once we raise the funds to put the bridge up,”
She said several fundraisers are planned over the next 8 months in several cities.
“So we are trying to spread the event throughout the community. So anyone can participate whether we’re in Lowell, Ionia, Belding. We’ll be back to Lowell, May 17th, 2014.
“Hopefully we can gather enough support from the community that they will just come pouring on out for us. We’re promising music and fun and lots of food,” Salters said.
The next fundraiser is scheduled for December 21st and will actually be a euchre tournament.
Other places that Supporters for Whites Bridge plan to attend include:
1) November 15-17 - Christmas Through Lowell
2) December 7 – Impact Church Craft Fair, Lowell, MI
3) December 21 – Euchre Tournament, Steel St. Hall Ionia, MI
4) February 23, 2014 – Daytona 500 Party, Belding American Legion (tentative)
5) March 22, 2014 – Lowell Expo – Lowell High School, Vergennes Ave.
6) April 2014 – 5k Walk/10k Run Through Fallasburg Park
7) May 17, 2014 – Lowell Fair Grounds All Day Event, (*plans are in the works)
8) July 6, 2014 – 24 hour vigil camping and donations at the bridge site