President hopes grant will inspire others to ‘pitch in’

The RV/MH Hall of Fame gets another boost from the Ingram famly, who offered another $50,000 if the hall can raise $150,000 to work its way out of debt.

Posted on Sept. 26, 2012 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on Sept. 26, 2012 at 5:20 a.m.

ELKHART — The Ingram family wants to continue the momentum on the RV/MH Hall of Fame’s efforts to get out of debt.

The family of Robert “Boots” Ingram, a member of the hall of fame, offered a $100,000 matching grant in May, a match that helped the hall raise another $170,000.

Now they’re offering an additional $50,000 if the hall can raise $150,000 by the end of April.

“With normal monthly payments, our 1st Source Bank loan balance at the end of April 2013 will be down to $201,000,” said Darryl Searer, president of the hall of fame. “If we are able to meet the Ingram family’s $50,000 challenge by raising $150,000, we will be able to retire that debt and burn the bank note,” he said.

That still leaves a sizeable debt, but one owed to the Ingram family. The hall was in danger of closing last year, and the Ingrams offered to wait until the bank loan was paid off before accepting payments on the funds they loaned to the hall.

When Searer took over the hall in March, the hall owed 1st Source $828,000, Searer said. Earlier this month, when the hall announced the results of the Ingram family’s first match, that number was down to $283,000.

The City of Elkhart also agreed to waive $115,000 in money owed for water/sewer service to the hall’s building near C.R. 17 and the Indiana Toll Road, and to significantly lower the hall’s monthly payments, though that deal isn’t yet sealed.

In addition to a hall of fame, the hall is also marketing itself as the Northern Indiana Event Center and hired a marketing manager for the center.

“Our work isn’t done,” Searer said in a written statement. “We still have some challenges but now we control our own destiny. We will be able to meet our obligations and can assure friends and skeptic alike that the hall will survive for many years to come.”

He called the hundreds of people who’ve donated so far “heroes,” and said “near the top of the list of our heroes is the Ingram family who continues to show their support for the hall. Their generosity in making this latest challenge should inspire everyone concerned about the long-range health of our wonderful facility to pitch in and help.”

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