Group working to fund repairs for historic Spencerville Covered Bridge

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Fish fry to be held Saturday to raise money

SPENCERVILLE, Ind. (WANE) –  Restoration for the Spencerville Covered Bridge is expected to begin soon, but for it to be safe enough to open to traffic again, it still needs additional funding.

Built in 1873, the span is the last remaining covered bridge in northeast Indiana. It’s one of 90 left in the state of Indiana.

“It’s a jewel for this community. It’s pretty much everything to Spencerville area,” said Bill Hartman, the president of the DeKalb County Commissioners.

The covered bridge has been closed since October 2018, which is longest its ever been closed in its 147 years. It closed due to a failed inspection.

“The inspectors found moisture damage in the support timbers of the southwest corner of the bridge,” said Mary Diehl, one of the head logistics coordinators for fundraising for the covered bridge said. “The contractor also deemed the flooring unsafe due to the spacing in some of the areas.”

A group Diehl started, called the “Friends of the Spencerville Covered Bridge,” has been working raise the $50,000 necessary to replace covered bridge’s “decking,” or flooring.

The group partnered with DeKalb County to come up with the funding to repair the bridge. The arrangement is that the county is committed to fixing the bridge’s support structure and the group is committed to fixing the flooring.

It’s important for both parts of the bridge to be fixed because according to Deihl, the bridge can’t be open to traffic without the flooring fixed, and if the bridge is closed to traffic then it will lose federal funding.

Earlier this week, the county received a grant to go toward the repairs, but that money won’t go toward the flooring.

The Friends of the Spencerville Covered Bridge has been fundraising since February and has raised $35,000 so far. They are holding another fundraiser Saturday.

Saturday’s fundraiser is fish fry, with the food from Dutch Heritage. There will also be both a live and silent auction. It will be held at the Spencerville Community Club at 4 p.m. Safety wise, they added carry-out options and worked with the DeKalb County Health Department to get a safety plan approved.

Diehl said it’s a critical time for her group to raise the last bit of money they need because she received word that the county is ready to proceed with the restoration. She also said fundraising through the pandemic has not been easy. However, she remains optimistic.

“The bridge has survived many trials and tribulations and floods and things like that so it will survive the pandemic. We’ll get there” Deihl said. “The money we do have we have done it one Christmas ornament, one t-shirt, one piece of chicken at a time.”

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