Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
Riverboat spring grant recipients announced
KEOTA — The Washington County Riverboat Foundation held its annual spring grant cycle reception Wednesday night at Wooden Wheel Vineyards, announcing over $1.6 million in funding for 25 schools, nonprofits, local governments and community initiatives.
Always a big evening for those who attend, Board President Stephanie Sexton said the group was happy to lend its support.
“We are proud of the community projects that we can support,” she said. “We are proud that Riverside Casino is in Washington County, and therefore we get all the benefits of being able to do such great projects here.”
The city of Kalona was the biggest winner of the night, walking away with $554,300 for parks and a recreation trail in the Southtown area, a collaborative effort with the Washington County Conservation Board.
“This will really kick off the public amenities that will be out there, whether it be dog park, naturescape park, a splash pad, playground equipment, and so forth,” City Administrator Ryan Schlabaugh said. “We’re really excited, this will really kick things off. Our goal is to have the best city park in the state of Iowa, managed by County Conservation.”
County Conservation Director Zach Rozmus said the cash flow would ensure that no corners were cut in development of the 115-acre area.
“This has the opportunity of being a location where people are going to come and they’re going to steal ideas from us, they’re going to want to do what we’re doing,” he said. “This is going to go a long ways.”
Mid-Prairie schools were another major recipient, with WCRF announcing $39,863 for the school’s fine arts boosters, which will use the cash to buy new thrust stages and band instruments.
“We’ll be able to purchase seven (sousaphones,) at least,” said Brenna Good, a member of the school’s Fine Arts Boosters. “Otherwise, we’d be able to purchase one.”
At another school district, Highland received $37,000 for new interior door locks, a huge chunk of the project’s $72,000 total price tag. With Riverboat money in hand, the work is expected to happen this summer, according to Dean of Students Bill Zywiec.
He said the project was perhaps less flashy than others on the list of grant recipients, but no less important.
“Our locks don’t lock from the inside,” he said. “A teacher, in order for them to lock their classroom door, has to go outside, use their key to lock that door … teachers didn’t feel safe, they didn’t feel like they could keep their students safe. And when I asked them what they wanted me to get for them, it was door locks, of all things.”
Representatives from PAWS & More animal shelter in Washington said they were happy to receive $30,000 from the foundation, which will go to the first phase of their new building project.
While the construction timeline stretches into at least 2025, Shelter Director Amber Talbot said the grant announced Tuesday night would lock down engineering fees for blue prints, renderings, drawings and cost estimates for the space that would get an eventual capital campaign off the ground.
“It’s the big step in matching funds for that more finalized design to present,” Talbot said. “This completes our first phase of the project, to launch it.”
A list of all spring grant recipients follows:
- Washington County Conservation, Marr Park Shower House: $250,000
- Washington County Genealogical Society, digital desktop microfilm reader: $4,843
- Washington County Fair Assn., county fair sign: $29,028
- Highland school district, classroom door locks: $37,000
- Keota school district, AEDs emergency response: $5,000
- Washington school district, baseball lights: $120,000
- Lousia County Sheriff’s Office, Search-Rescue UTV: $9,999
- City of Crawfordsville, ball field upgrade: $17,460
- Midwest Old Settlers and Threshers, streetcar restoration: $25,000
- Saint James Elementary, school windows: $83,281
- City of Letts, community park rubber mulch: $2,500
- City of Kalona, student-built house: $50,000
- Washington County Historical Society, Conger House museum restoration: $27,400
- Mid-Prairie school district, “It’s All About That Bass”: $39,863
- Washington school district, Stewart iPad 1:1 refresh: $25,000
- Opera House Inc., tuckpointing and brick repair: $75,000
- City of Kalona, Southtown recreation parks and trail: $554,300
- Weeks-Van Eck VFW Post 3939, floor covering replacement: $11,000
- City of Martinsburg and Keokuk County, new town hall: $49,844
- Hawkeye Area Boy Scouts, COPE/climbing equipment: $3,400
- PAWS & More, architectural and engineering service fees: $30,000
- Healing at English River Outfitters, HERO Lodge project: $2,337
- Keota school district, elementary playground: $100,000
- Iowa Mennonite Benevolent Assoc., fitness equipment and communication system: $63,000
- Surprise grant to the GIVE Foundation: $15,000