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$1,612,504.78 Boost For Palo Alto Community Schools, Cities and County

March 23, 2020
By Jane Whitmore , Emmetsburg News

by Jane Whitmore

A large crowd filled the ballroom at Wild Rose Casino, Emmetsburg, to see what share of $1.6 million would come their way as the 14th Grant Award Celebration got underway Friday, March 6.

Brian Bormann, President of the Palo Alto County Gaming Development Corporation Board, outlined how the funds were appropriated.

Article Photos

GRANT CYCLE AWARDS -- Palo Alto County Gaming Development Corporation Board of Trustees hosted the 2019 Grant Cycle Awards celebration last Friday, March 6. Portions of the $1.6 million was awarded to Palo Alto County cities and schools and to competitive grant projects. Pictured (from the left) are board members Jan Helmke, Abby Burns, Glen Simonson, Brian Bormann, Mary Lee Orr, Jamey Whitney, Kim Hoffman and Bill Dickey. --Jane Whitmore photo

"These funds came from Wild Rose Casino and our agreement with them,"?Bormann explained. "Palo Alto County Gaming is the QSO - the qualified sponsoring organization. We hold the license for Wild Rose Casino, and Wild Rose, Emmetsburg, is the casino operator. We have a partnership with them. We just renewed the agreement for another three years. We're happy for that."

Bormann explained how the funds were disbursed.

$594,000 is set aside for the cities in the county:

"They don't have to apply for it, they all receive it, based on population. The cities have a minimal amount of paper work to fill out to tell us what they did with the money. A pretty good chunk of it goes to the cities," he said.

$200,000 is set aside to go to the schools in the county:

"It's the same thing. They don't have to apply for it and they fill out a little bit of paper work to tell us what they did with the money. It's all based on their enrollment," he said.

"There is also a $50,000 shared school award, which is shared equally among the five schools," Bormann said. "Each school receives $10,000. The administrators met and set some priorities. This year they have three priorities:?curriculum, good mental health, and technology."

$350,000 is assigned to the reserve fund:

"We have several different things that we fund," Bormann explained. "Some of this money goes to commercial demolition, and residential demolitions where we help people to take down old buildings that need to come down. It's been used for some housing incentives to help people buy a house for the first time, to help with the closing costs. There's some money there for new construction, meeting certain guidelines. The last project that we have funded is a septic replacement project. We will help fund septic tank replacements out in the country."

Competitive grants:

"We are awarding competitive grants tonight. Out of $1.6 million there was $400,000 set aside for mini grants and full grants," he said. "The grants are scored by the nine directors on a computerized system with no one knowing how others have scored each project. Then everything goes to the funding committee. We always have more requests for money than we have funding for."

Borman told the crowd, "The competitive grant process is probably the most time consuming of all the things we do. Tonight is the night that makes all of those long meetings worth while."

Grant Awards

Walking trail projects took home the largest grants of the night. Funding for 17 full grants were awarded Friday night.

Five Island Trail Corporation was awarded $60,007.00 for Phase 8 of FIT?Trails.

Graettinger Visioning Committee received $42,987.00 for Part 2 of Citizens Park Walking Trail and Connecting Trail.

Additional full grant awards were:

Ruthven Fire Department, Wildland Tanker Truck, $39,307.00

Emmetsburg Volunteer Fire Department, Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus, $36,028.00

City of Mallard, Cluster Box Project, $30,794.00

Shrine of the Grotto of the Redemption, Grotto Campground Electrical Upgrade-West, $27,476.00

West Bend Fire Department, SCBA Add/Upgrade, $16,623.00

Graettinger Community Apartments, Graettinger Community Apartments, $16,106.00

Emmetsburg Kiwanis, 5 Island Campground Playground Equipment, $15,993.00

Palo Alto County Conservation Board, Park & Wildlife Improvements, $9,600.00

Palo Alto County Fair Association, Electrical Upgrade Phase II, $8,202.00

Cylinder Fire Department, SCBA Cylinder Filling Station, $7,687.00

Palo Alto County Sheriff's Office, Flir Scout Thermal Monocular, $6,799.00

Palo Alto County VFW #2295, New LED Lighting for Post Home, $6,514.00

West Bend Chamber of Commerce, West Bend Swimming Pool Furnishings, $6,468.00

Horizons Unlimited of Palo Alto County, Side by Side Bicycles, $6,000.00

Emmetsburg Main Street Community Theatre, Building Safety Upgrade, $4,171.00

There were 26 mini grant projects that received funding. A full list of grant recipients will be included in The Democrat on Thursday, March 12.

Thank You

At the close of the evening, "Thank You" awards were presented to retiring PACGDC Board member Mary Lee Orr and to Jane Hoyman who had served as Administrative Assistant to the board.

Mary Lee Orr served two terms on the Palo Alto County Gaming Development Corporation Board of Directors.

"We're going to miss her," Bormann told the crowd. "She has been our HR?person. She knows all the questions to ask, and all the things to do. We will miss her wit and her intelligence."

Mary Lee thanked the past board, for their knowledge and expertise, and the present board, and the new people coming onto the board.

"If any of you out there have an opportunity to serve on this board, take it. The things we do is once in a lifetime," Mary Lee told the group. "Look at the money that we gave away tonight.?It's not easy deciding how we're going to do it. There are rules to follow, policies and procedures, and you feel really bad when you can't fund everything, but that is the way it has to be. Don't ever give up on writing a grant. There will be a time when it is correct - just being off a dollar, something minor - next year you'll get it. Please keep trying. This is the culmination of everything we go through the whole year. It is worth it."

Marilyn Noonan from Ayrshire will fill the spot on the PACGDC?Board.

Jane Hoyman served the board as Administrative Assistant for five years.

"Jane's personal and business life had changed and she needed to make a change in her life," Bormann said. "We found a replacement (Tara Hoch) last August. Jane helped us through the transition and she's still helping. We're indebted to her for her service."

Jane commented, "It has been a pleasure to work with all of you. This board, the previous boards, and the new people coming on, you have given so much to this county, and I have to thank Steve Cody and team because without them this wouldn't even be happening. Thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of your projects over the years. It's been so fun to see all the positive things that have happened in Palo Alto County in just the five years that I've been a part of it. I can't wait to see all of the new things you're going to achieve."



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