More store investors pursued



August 8, 2017 - 12:00 AM

MORAN — Larry Manes, a Moran resident of 19 years and one of the town’s most vocal and active boosters, encouraged city council members to become members of a cooperative that means to keep the local grocery open.
Each was handed a brochure about the co-op, after Manes, coy as he sometimes is, said, the “good news is, I’m not here asking the city for money,” though followed with a plea that each of the council members ask themselves if they could see to purchasing an individual membership for $100.
None immediately put pen to check, but they did listen closely to Manes’s well-rehearsed spiel.
“The store has been for sale for five years,” he began. “The owner (Dave Mahurin, who also has a store in his hometown, Erie) is 68 and is talking about closing it. If we lose our grocery store, Moran in 20 years will be like Savonburg,” the hamlet at the southeast corner of Allen County that has a scattering of homes and no commerce of consequence.
Manes and his group “are trying to keep the store open,” he said. “A town needs three things, I think, to keep going: A school, a post office and a grocery. Nelda (his wife) and I are still active and we can drive to Iola’s Walmart, but half the seniors don’t drive, and some of those who do just drive to church.”
To date 49 people, including a handful who live outside of Moran, have purchased $100 memberships. “We want 250 members,” Manes said. “That’d be $25,000 and we have a $60,000 grant (through Thrive Allen County’s efforts). That’s $85,000,” but anticipation is it will take $148,000, give or take, to buy the store and $60,000 for its inventory.
To fill the gap, Manes and crew have started a more ambitious fund drive. “We’re asking for $10,000,” an amount he has put on the table, “and I have a couple of others who are close, to getting in.”
But, to make that portion of fundraising meaningful about 14 subscribers are needed — “and I think we can get more grants.”
Provided the project moves ahead, soon after the store is purchased by a cooperative, a board of directors will be elected and a manager hired.
“If we don’t succeed, those who have given money will get some, not all, but some, back,” Manes said.
If the cooperative flies, as has occurred in St. Paul and other small towns at an accelerating rate, those on board will have advantage if profit is realized. “It won’t be a dividend, but discounts on purchases,” he predicted.
Still stumping, Manes said he was driven by the realization “I’d feel bad if I didn’t make every effort to keep the store open.”
Manes mentioned another source of support he intended to approach with his tapping tools.
County “Commissioner Jerry Daniels (who represents Moran and southeast parts of the county) said he would be eager to help,” he said. “I’m going to give him and the other two commissioners a chance.”

IN OTHER news, council members:
— Gave Patti Boyd permission to remove plants she purchased and nurtured in a community garden at the edge of a pocket park along Cedar St., U.S. 59 through town and its north-south thoroughfare. She noted she had been involved since 2010, when she presented a design for the park and used her master gardener skills to move it forward — until recently when what she claimed was unauthorized intervention by locals who disagreed with its upkeep. “I bought $100 worth of plants,” she said, “and I want to remove them.” The vote to permit Boyd’s request passed 4-1, with Jim Mueller in opposition.
— Told members of the Moran Library board to return with ideas for how to make use of the now vacant First Baptist Church, a metal building that will be the library’s new quarters. The church, purchased by the city for $45,000, will give the library much more space and permit Librarian Cindy Chalker to explore numerous ideas to pass on her love of reading and other exercises she thinks Moran residents would find fulfilling.

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