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In Like A Lioni

March 10, 2014 - Jane Whitmore
March came roaring in like a lion last Saturday - with snow, wind and sub-zero temps. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m ready for some days in the 30s and 40s - on a regular basis. Palo Alto County roared in like a lion too, with the annual Grant Awards Celebration at Wild Rose Casino. Grant awards were postponed for 24 hours because of the weather, but Sunday night it was another spectacular event. A chart of grant and award distribution of the $1,923,263 shows 33% went to full grant requests; 21% in city awards; 19% for per capita grants to cities; 12% went to school awards; 11% for mini grants; and 4% for Palo Alto County Economic Development. Don Miller, president-elect of Palo Alto County Gaming Development Corporation, explained how the money is determined for the non-profit, citing Iowa Code. Miller said “Basically, it’s the net between what the gross taken in and what is paid out -- it’s the net. This is only the casino, slots and the tables. That’s the only part that goes into the calculations. The total is multiplied by the 6-percent that the non-profit receives. That’s where this money comes from that you see up here,” indicating the checks on display. The dollar amount that has been accumulated since the casino has been open -- $13,400,000 -- has gone back into Palo Alto communities. Of that, approximately $12 million has gone out in grants. I can empathize with those who wrote grants that were disqualified. The first year Kay Kibbie and I wrote for a grant to construct community entrance signs, we got tripped up on the math. We thought we had reviewed absolutely everything. But, the math had an error and our grant was disqualified. Quick learners that we are, that next year we had did our homework and reviewed our numbers and our grant was funded. So when Lloyd Petersen talked about the 23% of the full grants that were disqualified, I know how those folks felt. As Lloyd said, “That’s just way too many people making mistakes.” He encouraged grant writers to go over the guidelines and look at them closer. PACGDC funded 199 of the full grants for $545,248; however, 11 grants totaling $246,882 could not be funded. Travis Dvorak, assistant general manager of the Wild Rose, addressed the ballroom filled with people. Addressing the non-profit board, he thanked them for going through and scoring all of the grant applications. He called it a labor of love that benefits all of Palo Alto County. Travis also thanked everyone who attended, noting that each is working to make a difference in his/her community. “I’m very proud to see these checks every year and see all the great things that you are doing,” he said. Travis also addressed the 6% of gaming revenue. “Every casino in Iowa has to pay 22-23% tax on the gaming revenue,” he said. “We are the second to smallest casino in Iowa and we have to pay the same tax rate as casinos that make two, three, four, five, six and seven times as much as we do. Unlike personal income tax, the rates don’t change so we have that same burden. Despite having that same burden, and being the second smallest casino, we give back the largest percentage to the community.” The grant awards process moved quickly and the crowd responded with cheers and applause. Their “roar” was yet another great way to usher in the month of March. Because the grant award celebration was delayed 24 hours, we had to delay our special section with photos of all of the grant recipients. Look for that section in The Reporter next Tuesday, March 11. On another Spring note, Marvin Duhn called the newspaper office Tuesday morning to report sighting his first Robin of the year. The early bird was taking a sip from Marvin’s heated bird bath. And, don’t forget to change your clocks this weekend. It seems a bit early, but Daylight Savings Time begins Sunday. Some love this annual change, while others might not care at all. Still...don’t forget to “spring” ahead one hour.


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