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An Oelwein bank is hoping its pledge toward renovating a historic downtown building into an event center will inspire more contributions to the project.

Jim Kullmer, president and CEO at Community Bank of Oelwein, announced the $250,000 pledge on Wednesday for the new Oelwein Event Center. The bank will contribute $50,000 as an initial seed money contribution. The remaining $200,000 will be a matching donation for other local contributions to the project, tentatively located at 137 South Frederick.

The 20,000-square-foot T.N. Carnall building will be gutted and remodeled to accommodate events of up to 450 people, according the bank.

“Once completed, the Oelwein Event Center will be transformed into an attractive venue to be used by individuals and organizations in Oelwein and the surrounding area,” the new release says. “Improvements will include meeting rooms, two bar areas, bride and groom rooms, and a banquet facility with a kitchen and restrooms capable of hosting large-scale events.”

Construction is expected to begin in January 2022 and be completed by December.

“We are pleased to contribute to the Oelwein Event Center project because it embraces a philosophy at Community Bank of supporting the area we call home,” said Jim Kullmer. “We know it will contribute longstanding value for our area citizens.

“I headed up the committee to build the Blairstown Community Center, so I am very aware of local support’s key role in a project of this scale. I am very excited to be a leader on this project and encourage anyone who has questions about the project and how they can be involved or contribute to contact me at Community Bank.”

A new charitable organization — temporarily named the Oelwein Event Corporation — is in the process of being formed to own and operate the facility, Kullmer said. He is serving as president of the initial board that includes Oelwein Chamber and Development Executive Director Deb Howard, Oelwein Fidelity Bank and Trust Oelwein-area Market President Kent Nelson, Community Bank of Oelwein Vice President Sarah Lewis and Oelwein Community Schools Superintendent Josh Ehn.

The T.N. Carnall building is considered one of Oelwein’s strongest buildings and was constructed in 1919, the news release says. In 1942, the King Brothers purchased it to house their business, Oelwein Implement Company, until they relocated in 1974. The painted words “Tractors” and “Trucks” are still on the building.

The building has housed many businesses over the years and is currently home to Dollar General.

The Dollar General corporation is constructing a 15,000-square-feet building with a parking lot on property along Third Street Southeast from South Frederick to First Avenue.

The original Sacred Heart Catholic Church was built on this site in the late 1870s.

Organized in 1998, Community Bank of Oelwein is the only locally owned bank chartered in Oelwein.

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