Windom Lions break ground on shelter near Cottonwood Lake

·3 min read

Jul. 17—WINDOM — The Windom Lions Club has embarked on its biggest fundraising project yet — raising $250,000 to build a brand-new shelter house for events and gatherings on Cottonwood Lake in Tegels Park.

"Once this thing is completed, the Lions Club is going to donate it to the city of Windom," said Eric Haken, the club's second vice president.

He's been with the club for the past seven years, and every year, the group does fundraisers to generate money for community projects and charitable endeavors, hosting meals, concerts and other events.

"Every year, we always worry about weather. Is it going to rain? Is it going to get windy? If we're going to have a band, where are we going to have it (if the weather is bad)?" said Haken, who recalled that the topic of a shelter house kept coming up. "Finally, I'm like 'Let's stop talking about building a shelter, and let's just go for it.'"

The other Lions agreed, and it was decided to build the shelter house at Cottonwood Lake, a good location for family or class reunions, wedding receptions or company picnics.

Tegels Park already features sand volleyball courts, a boat ramp, docks for fishing and boating, a playground and accessible restrooms, according to Windom's website, and a beach too, according to Haken.

Plus, there had been an old shelter house there before, though at 30 by 30 feet it was quite a bit smaller than the 60- by 88-foot structure the Lions broke ground for on Wednesday.

The new shelter will be shaped like a T, and the plan is to build a stage on one end of it for performances. The shelter will also feature a serving area with a sink, in case someone wants to bring food or hire a caterer for an event there. The sink will have hot and cold running water, and restrooms will also be part of the new shelter house.

"We didn't want this thing to look like a pole barn," Haken said. Instead, the roof will be tiered, and the openings on the sides of the building will be built so that overhead doors can be added to the structure at a later time.

So far, the Lions have raised $158,686 of their $250,000 goal, slightly hampered by the advent of COVID-19, which doubled and even tripled the prices of some of the materials needed for the shelter house. But the plucky Lions decided they weren't going to quit, and they're still raising money to complete the shelter house.

The club raises money for this and other projects in a number of ways, from a pancake breakfast every Palm Sunday to raffles and cookouts.

"We do a lot in the community. We're hands-down the biggest nonprofit organization in Windom," Haken said. "... the Lions Club would not exist if the people in our community and the businesses wouldn't come to our events and support us."

He emphasized that the club gives essentially everything it gets back to the community, noting that its motto is "We serve." He encouraged others to join the Lions and make a difference in people's lives.

"We always want new members," Haken said, inviting prospective Lions to turn up for a meeting at 6:30 p.m. every second and fourth Wednesday of the month at Windom's Phat Pheasant Pub.

When the shelter house is complete, potentially as soon as September, the city of Windom will maintain the structure and allow people to reserve its use through its website.

"It'll be nice," Haken said. "You don't have to be from here to use it. We want people to come here, we want people to come and enjoy our town and come up to the lake and enjoy that building."

Anyone who would like to donate to the project should write a check to the city of Windom/Windom Lions Club, and mail it to Windom City Hall, 444 Ninth Street, Windom, MN. 56101.