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Weekend event raises funds to repair old schoolhouse

The Friends of the Martell Schoolhouse are holding periodic fundraisers to buy materials to renovate the 1905 building located along Hwy. 63. Pictured, left to right, are Friends members Maxine Schaller, Julie and John Kenefick, Deanie Pass, Dianne Erickson and Pat Wiff. -- Photo by Judy Wiff

Most people slow down only a little as they travel Hwy. 63 through the tiny community of Martell. But there'll be something worth stopping for Saturday.

A daylong fundraiser and community gathering will include a flea market, food, fireworks at dark and a movie after the fireworks.

"We're a small group, but we've got some momentum going," said Julie Kenefick, a member of The Friends of the Martell Schoolhouse. The group is organized as tax-exempt, non-profit organization to raise funds to repair and renovate the 1905 one-room school.

While visitors can watch the movie and fireworks for no charge, vendors will pay $20 apiece to set up their tables for the flea market and The Friends will sell a simple lunch of hot dogs and chips. Donations are also welcome.

As he did twice last summer, Mike Bungert, a member of a pyrotechnic club, will present a display of fireworks.

After the bangs and booms, guests are invited to bring chairs or blankets inside the schoolhouse to sit on the floor and watch the movie, "Babe" on a large screen.

"This is one of the only schools that haven't been made into a home," said Deanie Pass, explaining her group's determination to preserve the old building along the Rush River.

"We try to have as many fundraisers as we physically can do," said Pass.

Although only four of the 20 Friends ever attended the school before it was closed in 1965, they all realize the value of preserving this part of history.

For more please read the May 25 print version of the Herald.

Judy Wiff

Judy Wiff has been regional editor for RiverTown’s Wisconsin newspapers since 1996. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and sociology from UW-River Falls. She has worked as a reporter for several weekly newspapers in Wisconsin.