The Village of Bellevue Downtown Development Authority has set its sites on a one-of-a-kind attraction that has the potential to draw some wide-ranging attention to the community. The Village was thrust into the national spotlight last fall when local residents Daniel LaPoint, Jr. and Eric Witzke unearthed 10,000-year-old mastodon bones from Witzke’s yard.
Working with the two residents, the DDA has developed a plan to make the mastodon bones the centerpiece of a downtown Bellevue exhibit.
“Our hope, when all is said and done, is to have a downtown attraction of some type,” said Village Manager Travis Brininstool. “The mastodon bones would be the focal point, but we would have other historical artifacts from the Bellevue area.”
The Village has set up an online GoFundMe site — — with a goal of raising $12,000, which Brininstool said would cover the cost to operate the exhibit for the first year.
“We have some things in the works to get that price down,” Brininstool said. “The goal is to set up a five-year commitment. We would start small and hopefully grow from there.”
Brininstool said he sees the opportunity to partner with the schools to provide educational opportunities at the exhibit; the Bellevue Historical Society to provide tours of its one-room schoolhouse as well as the owners of the historic old mill.
“All three together could be a nice day trip for someone or a great school field trip,” Brininstool said. “We want to bring people downtown to enjoy our local businesses.”
The DDA is working with owners of the former Country Feed and Seed property to house the exhibit. Brininstool said the DDA is also looking to partner with another business to share the space — potentially a coffee shop. He said the DDA is looking at a number of fund-raising options to bring the exhibit to life and keep it running as a free or by donation only attraction.
To make a donation or for more information, visit or call the Bellevue Village Hall at (269) 763-9571.