Nearly two years ago the Echo community lost more than just a place to eat when a fire destroyed its only cafe/bar.
“We lost our social gathering place,” said Sharon Hanson, an Echo resident.
In an effort to fill in the gap, a group of concerned citizens began talking about the idea of building a new establishment in the community in May 2012.
Since that time the group has held community meetings to see just how interested the people in town are to the idea of opening up something new.
The overwhelming re-sponse was to move forward with a plan.
That initial idea moved ahead, and tentative plans were drawn for a new restaurant and bar. With that work done the task of finding the money to pay for it began in earnest.
According to Rick Hanson, who serves on the building project committee, others have taken on the role of raising the funds.
“We have an ac-count set up at the bank so people can make donations,” he said, adding there is a sign on the west side of the community that is keeping track of the money as it comes in for the project.
Hanson said the project is estimated to cost about $400,000, which he added, is a high estimate. He said those involved calculated costs on the high end to ensure there was enough money to get the work done.
“What we did not want to do is raise what we thought would be enough money only to find out we needed more,” said Hanson.
Monetary donations are being accepted at Citizens Alliance Bank in Echo. They can be dropped off at the bank or mailed to P.O. Box 276, Echo, MN, 56237. Be sure to indicate what the donation is for when you send it.
Hanson said the community has held some fundraisers re-cently, and through fundraising events as well as community donations there is approximately $25,000 which has been collected for the project.
The plan is to collect a minimum of $250,000 before any actual work is done, said Hanson, adding that would allow for the construction of the shell and establishment of the structure in the community.
In order to help raise the funds the committee has scheduled an Echo community auction, which is being held Aug. 18 at 1 p.m. on Main Street.
Several items have been donated for the auction already, and more are being accepted. People are encouraged to check their closets, sheds, groves, garages and attics for items they can donate for the auction.
No, this is not an opportunity to dump those items with not value anymore. This is a fundraising effort, and the hope is to make some money.
Page 2 of 2 - Sharon Hanson said those who donate items are going to be responsible for taking them back if they do not sell.
The Echo community has a reputation of successful ventures like this, as it was able to open a community grocery store after the one in town had closed, and after its school closed the community rallied together to create what is a very successful charter school.
Current plans for the project are tentative, and there is still plenty of work left to do before this project comes to fruition. For more information about making a donation for the community restaurant/bar auction, call (507) 430-0421, (507) 430-2150, (507) 828-6217 or (507) 925-4140.