Group raises $40K for trail

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SANDPOINT — The Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail are off to a good start.

As the group galvanizes to raise funds for the fourth parcel of the trail, scheduled for three years down the road, its efforts have already yielded more than $40,000 in donations. Meanwhile, members are preparing for the first year of major fundraising activities.

“We feel like we’re making good progress on our way to our total goal,” said Susan Drumheller, secretary on the Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail board.

According to plans crafted last year, the Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail hope that Sandpoint will purchase the first two parcels and Ponderay will cover the third parcel. That leaves the fourth and final parcel up to the nonprofit. Before approving the first parcel purchase last fall, Sandpoint officials brokered an agreement with property owners last year that set the cost at $400,000 a parcel plus $10,000 for a railroad lease. Upon the group’s purchase of the fourth parcel, the three $10,000 payments will be discounted to a final amount of $370,000.

With the three-year clock ticking until their planned purchase of the parcel, members are mobilizing to make sure the $370,000 is in place.  Members are undergoing grant-writing classes to begin an aggressive application process for additional funding sources.

Board members are also in the early stages of planning fundraising events for the purchase. The first preliminary event — a Sip and Shop — took place in December. With wine donated by the Pend d’Oreille Winery, the event offered attendees a chance to browse goods and sample a choice vintage.

Despite its modest beginnings, the Sip and Shop provided the nonprofit with an excellent start to its fundraising. Guests spontaneously donated items to use for a silent auction — even though event planners didn’t have one scheduled. Nevertheless, the Friends of the Pend d’Oreille scrambled to organize an auction that yielded a few thousand dollars.

The bulk of the fundraising, however, came from two massive donations — separate $10,000 and $30,000 contributions — from out-of-town foundations that maintained ties to the community.  

“We hadn’t even kicked off the campaign yet, and then these donations came in,” Drumheller said. “These were unsolicited donations that originated through word-of-mouth.”

According to Drumheller, the group also aims to be involved in any development plans for the trail that may be forthcoming. This effort has yielded some promising results. For example, Drumheller said one persistent rumor speculated that the Sandpoint opening to the trail would be forced to deviate from the waterside. On the contrary, the trail open up along the waterfront, making for more pleasant walking and avoiding additional development costs.

With so many trail-related developments on the horizon, Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail members will likely stay busy with training and fundraising projects. Luckily, it’s easier than ever to get connected with the group. Interested individuals can find the group on Facebook, on their website — — and call them at 946-7586. Using these methods, supporters can learn of new developments and place donations online.

“We definitely have a lot of balls in the air,” Drumheller said. 

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