SPENCERVILLE — Friends of the Spencerville Covered Bridge are seeking a grant to apply a fire-retardant product to the bridge when it is repaired.
The group has applied for $1,510 from the National Society for the Preservation of Covered Bridges, based in New Hampshire.
The DeKalb County Commissioners endorsed the application June 22, after a presentation by Mary Hollabaugh Diehl. She is leading fundraising efforts to assist the county in completing repairs needed to make the bridge safe for use again.
Hollabaugh Diehl said fire retardant can be applied to unpainted areas of the bridge to significantly reduce the likelihood of a fire completely destroying the bridge.
The historic bridge has been closed since October 2018, when a routine inspection discovered that the southwest support structure was rotting. County officials have determined that the wooden flooring also needs to be replaced.
The county is awaiting a decision on its application for a $50,000 grant from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Historic Preservation to help with the cost of repairing the bridge. The expense for repair of the support structure is estimated at $162,000.
Friends of the bridge have committed to raise money to pay for the labor to remove the old bridge floor and install the new decking, which the county already has purchased. Their goal is $50,000.
A sale of rummage, barbecued chicken, plus T-shirts and other items with a covered-bridge theme, took place June 13 and raised nearly $10,000, Hollabaugh Diehl said.
The next fundraising event will be a fish fry and auction, 4-7 p.m. Aug. 1 at the Spencerville Community Club on C.R. 68. Dutch Heritage will prepare the fish. Items for the auction already have been donated by Carbaugh Jewelers, Monarch Hair Salon, Lyn-Maree’s and Styles Beyond, Hollabaugh Diehl said. Businesses interested in donating auction items can reach her at 260-249-5523.
On Aug. 29, Dr. Greg Butler of Butler Dental Group will sponsor a 5K walk/run. The entire $20 entry fee will go to the bridge fund for floor replacement.
Donations of money may be sent to the Eastside Area Community Foundation, PO Box 395, Butler, IN 46721 with a memo saying the check is for the covered bridge.
“Our main objective is to get the bridge repaired and back open to traffic,” Hollabaugh Diehl said after the meeting. “Many people from all over travel to our bridge to drive their classic car or motorcycle across our bridge. To not use that bridge for its intended purpose would be detrimental to the bridge in the long run. … In 2023, we will be celebrating the covered bridge’s 150th year in existence. All the donors and volunteers want the bridge open and welcoming traffic once again.”