Tiny Elba holding big fundraiser for playground, veterans memorial
ELBA — When youngsters in Elba want to go to the playground, local parents pack the kids in the car and hit the road.
“The nearest playground is in Plainview or St. Charles,” said Christina Finck. That’s 13 miles in one direction and 10 miles in the other.
So, when the idea of building a playground in Elba was floated at a city council meeting a few months back, Andrea Kieffer, a member of the city council, decided to work with Elba residents and the city to get a playground built.
While tiny Elba boasts a population of less than 200, Krystal Marking, who along with Kieffer and Finck, is helping to spearhead the playground effort, said there are probably 30 or more children under the age of 15 who would benefit from a park in Elba.
Since the city cannot afford to build a park, Kieffer said, she and Marking formed a nonprofit organization – Elba Community Outreach – to raise funds to build a playground and memorial. “Our mission is to provide amenities to enhance our small town in hopes to keep families here and attract more visitors to the area,” she said.
When talk of a new park and playground started, the city council also received a second request, Kieffer said, as a local resident came forward to ask the city to consider creating a veterans memorial in town.
“We thought we might as well try to make everyone happy,” Kieffer said. So the playground committee added a veterans memorial to its tasks and began looking at city-owned tracts in town that might accommodate their needs.
Eventually, the committee found a piece of land on Main Street just north of Fairwater Drive. The land, which is dotted with trees and includes two volleyball courts, would become home to both the veterans memorial and the playground, Marking said.
Kieffer said the memorial would be placed near the front of the property, closest to Main Street/Minnesota Highway 74.
The playground would be built closer to where the volleyball courts currently sit.
Finding a piece of land was the easy part of the project. Kieffer said the committee now hopes to raise anywhere from $18,000 to $26,000 to get the playground built and the statues for the memorial.
“It’s about $15,000 just for the playground equipment,” she said. “That doesn’t include the concrete or the ground cover.” Volunteers with excavators and other equipment can help fill some of the gap.
As for the memorial, the committee has its eyes on two statues. One would be a soldier, kneeling next to a makeshift cross. That item runs around $3,000, she said.
The second statue would be a stone wall onto which names could be engraved. That item runs up to an additional $8,000.
“The memorial pieces take a year to get after you order them,” she said. “We’d do the landscaping first, then wait a year for the statues.”
Raising the Funds
To raise the $18,000-$26,000 needed, the committee is holding a fundraiser on Aug. 25 where they hope to raise a minimum $15,000 for the playground equipment plus another $2,000 for the memorial, Marking said. The main source of the fundraiser is a raffle for a 2018 Polaris Ranger XP 900 utility vehicle along with some cash prizes, Marking said.
“Whatever we get will be great,” Kieffer said, adding that the committee formed a nonprofit organization, Elba Community Outreach. “We’re just starting out as a nonprofit.”
The fundraiser, which includes a GoFundMe page as well as the event on Aug. 25. That event will include games for adults and children, a bean bag tournament, a silent auction and the drawing for the UTV. The fundraiser will be held at Mauer Brothers Tavern & Grill, with the band Classic Rockers playing from 5-9 p.m.
“A lot of people are willing to donate toward the veterans memorial,” Marking said. “If we sold all 600 raffle tickets, we’d make roughly $17,000. We’re hoping to make money on the silent auction and bean bag tournament. And Mauer Brothers is helping us out with food.”
Mike Mauer, one of the owners, said it’d be nice to have a place for kids to play in town.
“It’d be nice to honor the veterans, too,” he said.