Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
The Washington County Riverboat Foundation brought an unusually large crowd to its grant awarding ceremony Wednesday night, inviting representatives from every organization receiving any grant since its last event in 2019.
“When we were presenting these grants, there was still some hesitation towards gathering,” Foundation President Shawn Ellingson said. “A lot of the small grants, and obviously the COVID and derecho relief grants, we wanted to get that money to them right away, and we really didn’t want to make people feel uneasy by having a big celebration. That’s why tonight was a culmination of all those grants we’ve been giving out over the last year and 10 months.”
The foundation formally recognized over $3.56 million in grants during the reception. Ellingson said the group was happy to support so many local causes.
“None of this could be done without Riverside Casino, and without you guys,” he said. “You guys are the nonprofits, you guys are the ones doing all this work … we’re very honored to be able to help you guys with that, and that’s why we’re here.”
Some recipients spoke during the reception, expressing their gratitude to WCRF.
“We were in the midst of a new pandemic that nobody saw coming,” Washington County EMT Tonia Rebling said on behalf of the ambulance service, which received funds for new ventilators. “We saw a significant rise in respiratory emergencies and patients requiring ventilatory assistance during transport … with the $25,000 grant we were able to purchase three new ventilators, allowing us to have the same equipment in all of our ambulances.”
Wellman Mayor Ryan Miller said the group’s municipal aid had been a boon during his tenure in office, which began in 2006, the same year the WCRF was founded.
“I know how much the casino and the Riverboat Foundation has meant to our community, how it’s helped build our community,” Miller said. “I wish I could take credit for some of that, but it’s just the right timing … we could do some of these projects, but not nearly all of them. We would have to raise taxes.”