IONIA, Mich. (WOOD) - A new group is determined to rebuild White's Bridge, a 146-year-old Ionia County landmark that was destroyed by arson earlier this month.
"I am angry about it but I decided to channel that anger into something constructive," Paul Phenix said. "I could spend all day being mad about it but it wouldn't bring the bridge back."
The group needs to raise about $850,000 to replace the iconic Flat River crossing between Belding and Lowell. Phenix thinks that's possible.
"This will be replaced. I know we will be able to raise the money from our community to do it," he said. "I am going to get this done."
What started as a Facebook group called "Rebuild White's Bridge" -- which Wednesday evening had more than 8,000 likes -- has grown into T-shirts for sale. Fundraisers are also being planned.
"Right now we are in the process of getting our not-for-profit set up," Phenix said.
But in two hours, Phenix sold only one T-shirt in the floral building at the Ionia Free Fair Wednesday.
Phenix and his volunteers have dug in for the long haul. He has dealt with adversity before after being injured during a tour of duty in Kosovo.
"I was told in 1999 that I would be in a wheelchair in two years. I am walking and I plan on getting that bridge rebuilt," he said.
The Ionia County Road Commission says that if private donors raise the money to replace the bridge and come up with a site plan, they'll consider it.
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