Our Town Watseka: Façade grants

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WATSEKA, Ill. (WCIA) — A façade grant program is helping spruce up businesses in Watseka.

One family is in the process of opening several businesses at a building downtown. The Bread Basket Food Pantry has already opened. They’re also putting in a pub and an event space.

“We’re trying to open it up so everybody can come in, have a good time, feel relaxed and enjoy what Watseka has to offer,” says co-owner, Jon Mann. “My grandparents have lived here their whole life. And I have always been a strong feeling for family and that. And my grandfather always taught me, you give back when you take. So, we’ve taken from the world — meaning going to work, you know made our living and that type of stuff. We’d like to try and give back to the Earth and help people out.”

Mann says the building on West Walnut Street was in disarray when they bought it. They applied for a façade grant and received $5,000.

“We did a lot of stonework out in the front, we’re re-doing the soffit areas, we’re redoing the roof in the front. We’ve done a lot of painting,” says Mann.

Several businesses have received grant money. They include Knapp Funeral Home and Travel Discoveries. Mayor John Allhands says about $30,000 is still available.

“I guess the old saying is, in order to get people to come through the front door — you’ve got to kind of clean up your front door and that’s as our council we agreed to do that and that’s how it all came about,” says Allhands.

Now, Mann has the front door to bring people in … and give back to a community that gives to him.

“It is a small town and it is a small farming community, which is nice, because it seems like everybody is there to help out each other. A lot of the bigger cities — and I hate to say it this way– but you don’t get that camaraderie. In the smaller towns you do, and that’s why like I said, we’re just trying to give back to everyone who helps us,” says Mann.

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