Foundation awards record amount
By ANDREW MCGINN
The Greene County Community Foundation awarded thousands Monday for everything from a drive-up book drop at the Scranton Public Library and hand-held radios for Churdan firefighters to rooftop art in Jefferson and grain bin rescue tubes for the Rippey Fire Department.
In all, the foundation awarded a record $120,644 in grants in what’s become one of the most anticipated nights of the year for local nonprofits.
Monday’s awards celebration at First Presbyterian Church in Jefferson marked the ninth year the foundation has helped spread the wealth of Iowa’s casinos.
Even as a nongaming county, Greene County nevertheless gets a cut of state casino proceeds.
Twenty-five percent of those proceeds go into the foundation’s endowment and can’t be touched, according to Tom Wind, foundation vice president.
The foundation’s endowment currently stands at about $600,000, Tim Heisterkamp, foundation president, told the gathering.
A local fund drive each fall also benefits the endowment. This past fall’s drive raised $14,000.
The rest, along with up to 5 percent of the endowment, can be distributed annually to charity.
This year, 37 organizations applied for about $257,000 in grants.
“That puts us in a difficult spot,” Wind confessed.
Ten requests weren’t funded.
A Wild Rose casino in Jefferson — proposed for the intersection of highways 30 and 4 — would only give Greene County more money to work with, according to Peg Raney, of Grow Greene County, the nonprofit working to land a casino here.
Dan Towers, director of the Greene County Conservation Board, had a definite spring in his step as he came forward to collect a check for $14,750 to improve the Raccoon River Valley Trail between Jefferson and Herndon.
The same project wasn’t funded last year.
“Persistence does pay off,” he noted.
The conservation board will use that money to pave across 11 gravel intersections, creating a continuous hard surface for cyclists.
Improving the trail, which connects Jefferson to the Des Moines suburbs, is seen as critical to making Greene County’s portion attractive to riders from around the state.
“Without these funds,” Towers said, “we didn’t know where to start out.”
The $3,000 awarded to the Greene County Sheriff’s Office will pay off the office’s new K-9, Leo.
Greene County’s K-9 program is funded solely by donations, Chief Deputy Jack Williams said.
Leo, according to Williams, already has taken 13 pounds of marijuana off the streets in less than two months on the job.
The $5,000 awarded to Jefferson’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9599 will help the post repair the leaky roof that led to a mold problem.
“We’ll use every penny we can get,” post Commander Don Ihnken said.
Ever since the mold was discovered, the post has ceased all activities — a troubling position to be in with the county now attempting to lure veterans to the area through Gov. Terry Branstad’s Home Base Iowa initiative.
“We need a home for all these people,” Ihnken said.
2014 Greene County Community Foundation grant awards
Churdan Fire Department — $2,000 for a saw and new hand-held radios.
Churdan Public Library — $2,500 to update old computers and to purchase headphones, batteries and a disc cleaner.
Community Players of Greene County — $1,250 for wireless microphones.
Jefferson-Scranton Elementary first-grade teachers — $1,000 to add to classroom libraries.
Genesis Development — $2,531 for CPR training for staff.
Grand Junction Community Center — $8,000 for architectural planning and design of a new community center.
Grand Junction Public Library — $1,010 for replacement of old computer.
Greene County Chamber and Development — $14,500 to renovate the office building on the grounds of the Thomas Jefferson Gardens into a Welcome Center with public restrooms and informational displays.
Greene County Conservation Board — $14,750 to pave 11 gravel intersections of the bike trail between Jefferson and Herndon.
Greene County Early Learning Center — $5,790 to install a shade over the playground to comply with state regulations.
Greene County Historical Society — $3,075 to repair the society’s two buildings at the Greene County Fairgrounds.
Greene County Sheriff’s Office — $3,000 for new K-9.
Habitat for Humanity — $7,500 for Helping Hands, a program to help low-income homeowners make repairs.
Jefferson Elks Lodge 2306 — $5,000 to replace a damaged wooden folding curtain with a permanent wall to reduce utility costs.
Jefferson Fire Department — $2,800 for air equipment.
Jefferson Park and Recreation Department — $10,000 for replacement of filters and piping at the Jefferson Municipal Swimming Pool.
Jefferson Police Department — $2,000 for an in-car computer.
Jefferson Public Library — $9,500 for new platform lift to meet accessibility standards.
Jefferson Swim Team — $4,000 to replace out-of-date racing equipment.
Jefferson-Scranton Elementary — $2,855 to buy and distribute books to all students three times annually (four times for the youngest students).
Rippey Fire Department — $688 for grain bin rescue tubes.
Scranton Community Center — $3,000 to replace the gym’s lighting system.
Scranton Public Library — $2,500 to add a drive-up book drop and a receipt printer.
Tower View Team of Jefferson Matters: Main Street — $1,995 for the first in a series of public artwork for downtown rooftops that can only be seen from atop the Mahanay Bell Tower.
Veterans of Foreign Wars — $5,000 for renovation of the Jefferson post.
Washington Twp. trustees — $3,000 to re-establish a fence around the cemetery.
Paton Public Library — $1,400 to update circulation desk and office area.