In October, the Friends announced they had purchased the Mill and surrounding property from Terry and Julie Clark through a grant from the Clean Ohio Fund and Darke County Soil and Water District.
The Clarks were recognized for their dedication to the Mill for more than 35 years. The Clarks were able to maintain the historical structure and surrounding acreage while creating a popular tourist destination. Bear’s Mill was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 and the couple purchased the Mill in 1978.
In 1999, the Friends of Bears Mill was formed to help manage the Mill. In 2000, the Clarks began leasing the Mill and property to the Friends.
According to Thomas Menke, board member, the acquisition of the property and Mill by the Friends was not an easy task. The Clean Ohio Funds grant was a competitive grant, which meant they had to beat out several other organizations seeking the same grant. Since he had never written a grant application before, Menke was calling many of the organizations seeking the same grant for advice.
By acquiring the property, the Friends are now in a position to seek additional grants that weren’t previously available when they were leasing the property. Dr. Carlos Menendez, board member, pointed out the wish list is extensive and expensive. The Friends of Bear’s Mill hope to eventually establish, build or fix the well system, public restroom facility, outdoor event stage, expanded parking, hydroelectric structures, nature trails and enhancements, property and grounds improvements, dam repairs, Mill fire repression system and storage barn.
Menendez pointed out the finances for the Mill rely on sales and contributors. He encouraged persons who are friends with the Mill to ask friends, neighbors and co-workers to become Friends of the Mill. Single memberships are available for a $25 donation. Carol Ball, a Friend of Bear’s Mill, suggested giving memberships as Christmas gifts.
For more information on Bear’s Mill or to become a friend or volunteer, call 548-5112 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Terry Clark discusses some of his early experiences at Bears Mill. Also shown are Friends of the Mill trustees Carlos Menendez and Gordon Smith. (Ryan Berry photo)|