County Wins Big…Again!
Palo Alto County communities and organizations received another economic shot in the arm when the Palo Alto County Gaming Development Corporation (PACGDC) hosted the Fourth Annual Grant Awards Ceremony on Saturday, Mar. 6. A total of $1,694,746.35 was distributed among Palo Alto County non-profit organizations and each of the nine communities. The event was held at the Wild Rose Casino & Resort Ballroom.
PACGDC Board President Lloyd Peterson started the evening by noting that this year, more applications for grants were received than ever before. Serving alongside Peterson on the board are Bill Lapczenski, Norlyn Stowell, Skip Wallace, Don Miller, Nate Newhouse, and Kay Suhr.
“There were some changes this year,” explained Peterson. “For the first time, we had mini grants which were for projects $2,500 or less with a ten percent match. The full grants we increased from $100,000 to $150,000 with a 25 percent match. Anything over $150,000 was a 50 percent match. Also, the board decided to create a reserve fund with a little over $141,000, with the hope of partnering with some people for economic development.”
Peterson shared concerns about the possibility of gaming licenses being awarded for four new casinos. Each of the seven PACGDC board members spoke throughout the evening, encouraging the public to write letters and e-mails or make phone calls informing the Iowa Racing & Gaming Commissioners how Palo Alto County would be adversely effected by the expansion of gaming in this portion of the state.
“We’re concerned with the Webster County proposal—that could really hurt us a lot,” said Peterson. “If possible, write to the Iowa Racing & Gaming Commissioners and let them know how it will impact us.”
The board president also reminded those present that in November, county residents will go to the polls to cast their vote on whether or not they still want gaming in Palo Alto County.
Each of Palo Alto County’s nine communities received one-sixth of the amount given to PACGDC. The money was distributed on a per-capita basis. Emmetsburg received $156,764.04; Graettinger, $35,617.92; West Bend, $33,019.31; Ruthven, $28,161.04; Mallard, $11,806.73; Ayrshire, $8,021.80; Cylinder, $4,378.09; Curlew, $2,457.38; and Rodman, $2,231.42. The cities will use their funds for programs and projects fitting the grant agreement.
Mini grants ranged in size from $450 for a four county recreation map display to $2,250 for city park signage for Graettinger city parks. The top full grants included $109,656 for the Palo Alto County E911 Service Board for enhancing the 911 system and $93,750 for the Palo Alto County Ambulance Service for a new ambulance.
Reactions of Recipients
“I would again like to thank Wild Rose Casino for the playground grant,” said David Hadley, Emmetsburg Middle School social studies teacher. Hadley accepted the $14,302.78 grant on behalf of the Emmetsburg Community School District. Last year’s fifth grade class was responsible for organizing and researching the feasibility of constructing a playground at the Middle School to meet the State’s requirement to increase physical activity among students.
“The fifth graders were very committed to this project, and it’s great that through their hard work, the playground project will soon become a reality,” said Hadley.
Palo Alto County Ambulance Service received one of the highest grant awards–$$93,750 for a new ambulance.
“I’m still speechless,” said Cheryl Darling, EMS Coordinator at Palo Alto County Hospital. “We were pleasantly surprised. The grant gives us a lot more options when we go shopping for an ambulance. We can look for one that is custom designed to meet our needs.”
According to Darling, the hospital currently has five ambulances—one is in need of replacement.
“Our goal is to provide good patient care by having a well-trained staff and by using reliable equipment,” Darling said. “This grant will help us purchase a state-of-the-art ambulance.”
Emmetsburg’s St. Pat’s Association received an $18,798.76 grant for a St. Pat’s Showmobile.
“We’ve been renting the showmobile from the Fenton Community Club to use during the St. Pat’s Celebration for years,” said Darlene Joyce with St. Pat’s Association. “The new showmobile will have a good sound system and more room, and will be available for other organizations to rent.”
Joyce added that the St. Pat’s Association is looking for a site to store the new showmobile.
“It’s wonderful to be able to have it,” Joyce added.
Emmetsburg Catholic School was the recipient of a $26,250 grant to conduct a wind turbine study in collaboration with a non-profit coalition that includes the Catholic School, Iowa Lakes Community College, Palo Alto County Hospital, Emmetsburg Municipal Utilities, and the Emmetsburg Community School District.
“These entities have been meeting for about a year to discuss it, and the study is the next step,” said Jean Hyslop, principal at Emmetsburg Catholic School. “The purpose is to offset energy costs by producing our own electricity. By going green, the impact reaches beyond just the schools, the hospital, the city, and the college. Each time we consciously use energy wisely and look to renewable resources, we contribute to the quality and sustainability of our total environment for generations to come.”