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LODA — A year after a fire destroyed the Loda Lions Club’s building on Chestnut Street, the club has started rebuilding the structure, with hopes to have it completed as soon as about $10,000 more is raised.
The new pole-barn structure, which will also serve as a community center, will be similar to the one that burned suddenly in May 2011, according to the club’s treasurer, Ron Gustafson, and president, Ron Dudley.
The construction of the main dining room area is already complete, as the club’s insurance covered the $12,000 cost. But “we’re at the mercy of fundraisers for the rest” of the work needed, which includes the installation of air conditioning and a furnace in the dining room, plus the construction of another room that will contain bathrooms and a kitchen, Gustafson said.
“We’re looking at another $10,000 — probably more than that,” Gustafson said.
The club has raised about $8,000 so far, about half the goal, Gustafson said. He was not sure how long it would take to raise the rest.
More fundraisers are planned, including the sale of hotdogs and snacks at two more Music Under the Stars concerts at Pells Park this summer and the sale of pork chops at the upcoming Loda Good Ole Days Celebration cosponsored by the Loda Lions Club and Loda American Legion Post. A cash bash event featuring the band The Back Paiges is also tentatively planned for August.
“We’re looking at different ways now to make money,” added Gustafson, who noted that the club’s last four monthly chicken fries netted a total of $24.
The new building will be handicapped-accessible and will “meet all the county codes,” Dudley said. The dining room will have a seating capacity of about 75, Gustafson said.
The kitchen will not be a “commercial kitchen,” Gustafson noted. “It will be just a sink, a stove and a fridge,” Gustafson said, adding that the cost to install a commercial kitchen was too much for the club to afford. That means “we’ll probably depend on a grill more than anything else as far as our cookouts go,” he said.
Meanwhile, the club continues to explore the option of buying four vacant lots immediately south of the building to give the club more space to hold outdoor events such as car shows or barbecues. Dudley said that if the club buys the lots, it might build a pavilion, as well. The club is expected to discuss the possible purchase of the lots in August, Dudley said.
With no usable building of its own as of yet, the club continues to hold its monthly meetings at the Owl’s Nest in Loda. The club currently has 17 members and is looking for more.
The club was displaced when the fire destroyed the original building, which was built in 1984.
“There’s not a single thing we can salvage,” Gustafson said after the fire. “We lost everything.”
The one-story building at 108 N. Chestnut St. was razed last year. Gustafson said the state fire marshal’s office investigated the fire and determined it to be accidental and electrical in nature.
Anyone interested in donating to the Lions Club building project can do so by sending a check to the Federated Bank of Loda, c/o “Lions Fire Fund.”