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Mel Sando, director of the Lake County Historical Society, and volunteer Todd Lindahl spent much of the summer restoring this caboose, which is located outside of the society in Two Harbors. The restoration was funded by a grant from the Two Harbors Area Fund and another from Cooperative Light and Power. Submitted photo

Two Harbors Area Fund paints the town's caboose red

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The display outside of the Lake County Historical Society is looking fine and festive these days.

Thanks to nearly $5,000 from the LaBounty Family Fund, part of the Two Harbors Area Fund, and money from Cooperative Light and Power, the society was able to restore and repaint the ore car and caboose that stand next to the society on South Avenue in Two Harbors. The two pieces are now a shiny, vibrant red.

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"We've put so much money into the locomotive display, we wanted to bring the rest of the display up to par," said Mel Sando, director for the society.

Sando and volunteer Todd Lindahl did most of the manual labor, replacing beams, scraping and repainting the structures.

"We had to scrape 50 years of paint off of the caboose," Sando said -- not typically in the job description of a historical society director. "There were days when I wanted to set the caboose on fire," he added with a laugh.

Sando said this summer, when he and Lindahl spent many hours working outside, he was able to observe visitors more closely than normal. He found the lack of signage was affecting their experience. To fix that, they added panels that tell more about the history of all the machinery.

They also spent some of their working hours chatting with visitors and answering questions. Sando said countless visitors stopped to express their gratitude.

"The volume of people who thanked us for doing that work was really amazing," he said.

Gordy Anderson, the chair of the advisory board, said the historical society is an important part of the community.

"They are an organization that is preserving the history of the area, which we think is really important," he said.

Almost all of the 2013 applicants received some grant money, he said.

"If it's any event or project that puts back into the community, we're open to those," he said.

Anderson has been on the advisory board since the fund began 15 years ago. Grant applications are due in March each year and money is disbursed throughout the year. The advisory board looks for projects that will enhance life in the Two Harbors area, and the LaBounty Family Fund is designated for projects that promote business.

"Our biggest challenge is to raise awareness and grow the fund," Anderson said. "We are very appreciative of the support we get."

They've set an ambitious goal of growing the fund -- which currently sits at about $750,000 -- to $1 million by the end of 2014. Anderson said it's the perfect way to support the community in the long term.

"The area fund will be here 100 years from now," he said.

The Two Harbors Area Fund announced all of its 2013 grants last week. In addition to the society, nine other organizations received funds.

- Arts on Superior, $300 to host "Fridays in the Park"

- Boys Scouts of America-Voyagers Area Council, $1000 to build scouting opportunities locally

- City of Two Harbors, $500 to host block party

- Lake Superior School District, $3000 to provide preschool scholarships for low income families and $3000 from the LaBounty Family Fund for the Two Harbors Robotics Club

- North Shore Collaborative, $1000 to fund an early childhood literacy program

- North Shore Horizons, $4000 to engage people in the Two Harbors area to end violence

- Two Harbors Area Chamber of Commerce, $2,800 for marketing winter frolic, $1,647 for website enhancements and $1,348 from the LaBounty Family Fund for website enhancements

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