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Bonanzaville in full fundraising mode; Mayoral election open

WEST FARGO – The Cass County Historical Society, which operates Bonanzaville, hopes to raise $150,000 so it can move in a replacement for the century-old St. John’s Church.

St. John’s Church was razed after a fire destroyed it July 19. Bonanzaville officials plan to replace it by moving in the South Pleasant Church from Christine, N.D.

Former North Dakota Gov. Ed Schafer and his wife, Nancy, plan to help spearhead the fundraising to move the church.

“We were married in the historic church at Bonanzaville and were sad when it burned,” the couple said in a statement. “(We) believe that a replacement needs to be made for historical accuracy of prairie life.”

Bonanzaville will raise the bulk of remaining funds needed through a “Sponsor a Mile” effort in which individuals or businesses can sponsor a mile of the move for $3,000.

The Beaton family, which cared for St. John’s Church at Bonanzaville, pledged to sponsor the first of the roughly 30-mile move.

“Six generations of Beatons have resided in Cass County. We are proud of the work Bonanzaville does to preserve Cass County history,” said Mike Beaton, one of 32 grandchildren who made the pledge in the name of Frank and Ida Beaton. Frank Beaton’s father homesteaded land at the corner of Interstate 94 and County Road 17 in West Fargo and was one of the founders of Cass-Clay Creamery.

The Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitors Bureau has also donated $27,000 to the church and $30,000 of Bonanzaville’s general budget has been dedicated to the church move, Brenda Warren, executive director of Bonanzaville, said in a news release.

The South Pleasant Church was built in 1890 by area farmers and was in continuous service until closing in 2013. When completed and relocated, the South Pleasant Church will be fully serviceable and accessible, and will be available for weddings and special events. Bonanzaville is the site for many weddings and events during the year.

Bonanzaville also kicked off its annual mayoral campaign, which will serve as its largest fundraiser for general operations by soliciting $1 for each vote. Money raised from the campaign may also be dedicated to moving the church.

The 2015 candidates are 107.9 The Fox personality Dave Jacobs, Mrs. North Dakota Erin Bertel and West Fargo Pioneer Assistant Editor Wendy Reuer.

The Bonanzaville mayoral race is open for voting. Links to each candidate’s GoFundMe page can be found at Bonanzaville.org.

Candidate profiles will be published in the June 17 issue of The Pioneer.

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