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A Celebration of Success

By Staff | Mar 6, 2012

A BIG CHECK -- Palo Alto County Gaming Development Corporation awarded $1,912,651.20 at the sixth annual Grant Award Celebration Saturday night. There were cheers of delight when grants were funded. A complete list of grant recipients will be available as a special section of The Democrat this Thursday.

On Saturday night, Palo Alto County Gaming Development Corporation announced the recipients of grants and mini grants for 2012. This year marked the sixth annual grant awards celebration. Approximately 129

projects from across Palo Alto County will receive funding taken directly from Wild Rose Casino’s profit.

“I don’t know if everyone has noticed, but there’s an increase in the size of that big check up on the stage this evening,” said Bill Lapczenski, member of the Palo Alto County Gaming Development Corporation board, referring to the $1,912,651.20 to be distributed.

“The people to thank are the people who work at this casino. They make a great experience for people to come and spend their entertainment dollars, and people keep coming back.”

Lapczenski went on to welcome Mary Lee Orr (who will serve as secretary) and Renee Jedlicka to the board. The new board members join Skip Wallace, who will serve as president for the coming year, Vice President Kay Suhr, Treasurer Don Miller, Nate Newhouse, Lloyd Peterson, and Bill Lapczenski.

Lloyd Peterson added, “We also need to thank the people downstairs on the gaming floor. They make all this possible.”

The Mini Grants were then presented to recipients. Among the organizations receiving the highest amounts (each received $2,700) were Friends of West Bend Skating for hockey equipment replacement, Palo Alto County Arts Council for a Blema Dance Company event, the Grotto of the Redemption for the 100th Anniversary Celebration advertising, Graettinger-Terril School for positive behavior interventions and Kindles to enhance the Title I reading program, and the Ruthven Public Library for newspaper microfilming, scanning, and binding.

Among the largest grants presented were $90,000 to the West Bend Chamber of Commerce for a community shelter house, $62,060 to the West Bend Historical Society for an agricultural equipment museum, $61,489.72 to the Lost Island Protective Association for Phase 4 of the Lost Island Trails Project, $60,843.75 to the Five Island Trails Committee for Phase 1 of the Five Island Trails Project, and $60,000 to Palo Alto County Economic Development for programs and projects to market Palo Alto County.

Each of the nine communities in Palo Alto County also received a per capita grant: Emmetsburg, $180,936.80; Graettinger, $39,113.72; West Bend, $4,080.32; Ruthven, $34,156.76; Mallard, $12,700; Ayrshire, $6,630.52; Cylinder, $4,080.32; Curlew, $2,688.87; and Rodman, $2,086.38.

Following the presentation of the grants awards, Skip Wallace spoke.

“Again, I would like to acknowledge all of the employees, the corporate, and the management of this casino for being a very friendly atmosphere,” said Wallace. “And when you go downstairs tonight to donate to next year, thank them. They deserve it.”

Wallace introduced Wild Rose Casino General Manager Amy Rubel.

Rubel thanked the Palo Alto County Gaming Development Corporation members for their hard work.

“They are a phenomenal group who volunteer their hours to do this, and they need to be thanked,” Rubel said.

She continued, “I am so proud of where we are here in Emmetsburg. We have nearly 300 employees here at Wild Rose and they provide exceptional guest services and everyone who works here gives that little something extra.”

Rubel introduced each of the department managers at Wild Rose: Controller Steve Cody, Casino Manager Travis Dvorak, Marketing Manager Beth Elman, Food and Beverage Manager Bill Walker, Security Manager Colin Fetland, Human Resources Manager Audrey Niemann, Hotel Manager Julie Olson, IT Manager Alex Jespersen, and Casino Host Rose Reit, and Banquets Coordinator Heather Kron.

“We have a great team here and a fabulous staff,” Rubel said. “Over 35-percent of the employees who work here are related to someone who lives here. We really are a family.”

Rubel continued, “This year we had some competition, and I am proud to say that Wild Rose got the number one spot in the state for growth in 2011. The best part is that it was our second year in a row for doing that. For the entire six years we’ve been here, we’ve been in the top five all of those years. We are very, very proud of what we do here and of the people who work here, and I’m really proud of the community we live in. You have been loyal and steadfast, and we so appreciate that.”