LeAnn Wickett, at left, Tim Mengis, center, and Sue Morken prepare for bar bingo on Wednesday, Nov. 20. This year, proceeds from bar bingo are being donated to the Mabel Community Market project.  DAVID STOEGER/NEWS-RECORD
LeAnn Wickett, at left, Tim Mengis, center, and Sue Morken prepare for bar bingo on Wednesday, Nov. 20. This year, proceeds from bar bingo are being donated to the Mabel Community Market project. DAVID STOEGER/NEWS-RECORD
Bar bingo has resumed at Highway 44 Bar and Grill in Mabel - this year with a new cause. Profits from the weekly event are going to support the future Mabel Community Market.

Assistant Gambling Manager Tim Mengis with the Mabel Fire Relief Association explained that historically, the bar bingo proceeds went to support the city's ambulance fund.

"I think last year we made about $6,000," Mengis reported. "The fire department still has to sponsor it, but the proceeds went to the ambulance - but with the dwindling crew we had, it (became) tough to find people to help work."

That's when the idea of bringing in the grocery store coop came up. Mengis, who is both on the fire department and the community market board, was one of the individuals who came up with the idea of bingo proceeds going to the market.

"With, hopefully, our grocery store getting started, the board decided to give that a try and some other volunteers have volunteered to help," he added.

For the past half-decade, bar bingo at Highway 44 Bar and Grill has become a much-enjoyed social event in Mabel. Bingo runs Wednesday nights from September through April - but Mengis said they would be open to extending the season if they had enough support.

"We'll see how it goes. If we have enough help that's willing to keep going with it through the summer, we will keep going," Mengis said.

Lonnie Peirce, chair of the Mabel Community Market committee, expressed appreciation to the Mabel Fire Department for its support of the community market project.

"We really appreciate the fire department helping us out...the only way this is going to succeed is if we have the community behind us, and if we have the fire department behind us we are off to a great start," he said.

The Mabel EDA (Economic Development Authority) now owns the currently vacant buildings that formerly housed Sue's Coffee Shop, Cruisers Restaurant, Mabel Record and Boman Chiropractic in downtown Mabel.

The plan is for the buildings to be demolished this winter and for the EDA to start construction on the grocery store coop in the spring. The EDA will then lease the building to the grocery store coop.

Profits for bar bingo will be going to the grocery store coop group rather than to the EDA.

"We are just trying to think of any way we can generate some revenue to get this going," Mengis concluded.