Community Foundation of Osceola County presents $127,300 in grants for siren, Snack Shack and more
Money to fund everything from town's emergency siren to fire department equipment and parks improvements.
SIBLEY, Iowa — During the past 17 years, the Community Foundation of Osceola County has awarded nearly $1.5 million in grants to local groups and organizations in need of critical equipment for public safety and organizations looking to complete betterment projects in their community.
The foundation recently completed its latest round of grant awards, with $127,300 in grants awarded to 32 groups throughout Osceola County.
The Melvin American Legion Post 470 was one of 14 entities to receive the maximum grant amount of $5,000. Osceola County Veterans Affairs Director Craig Sorenson said the Legion has benefited from Osceola Community Foundation grants for numerous years. This year’s grant award will be used to help purchase a statue for the post and 50 new U.S. flags for the Avenue of Flags at the city’s cemetery.
“We have a Legion building in Melvin — it’s the old school gym,” Sorenson said. “Out front, we have our own kind of Freedom rock and flags representing the four (branches of the) service.
“We have two statues — an Army and Air Force guy — and our goal is to get one for each branch of service,” Sorenson added.
While the grant doesn’t fund the entire cost of the statue and flags, it’s a great boost to Melvin’s small Legion Post.
“It’s a big help,” Sorenson said. “To maintain that building is a lot for a small legion post. It just costs a lot to maintain it.”
In years past, the Melvin Legion has used its grant awards to remodel the kitchen, replace the flooring, and add a new women’s restroom with help from the local auxiliary.
“We appreciate the folks that volunteer to distribute those funds — and the whole program,” Sorenson said.
Stephanie Neppl, Executive Director of the Osceola County Economic Development Commission and Osceola Community Foundation board member, said 32 applications were received for this round of grant funding, and they were able to award full or partial grants to all who applied.
A large share of the funds awarded come from gambling revenues received by the foundation. While Osceola County doesn’t have a casino, its money comes from other casinos around the state.
“Last year we were down (in funds received) because COVID impacted gambling revenue,” Neppl said. “We can choose to take money out of our permanent endowment, so we took some out of there to fund a few more projects.”
Neppl said several organizations applied during this round that hadn’t applied in the past.
“There were some local clubs in Melvin and Ashton — community clubs that try to offer events and activities for families,” Neppl said. “Melvin and Ashton are towns of under 500 people — they’re trying hard to keep really good amenities in their town.”
Neppl said there are so many needs in the small communities, particularly for things that keep people safe.
“We’re just always grateful to have the funds to help,” she added.
In addition to the Melvin Legion, organizations and groups receiving $5,000 grants were the May City Fire Department to purchase bunker gear; the city of Ocheyedan to purchase a new alert siren; the Sibley Fire Department to purchase a thermal imaging camera; the Ashton Fire Department to purchase self-contained breathing apparatus equipment; the Ashton Town and Country Club to expand its Snack Shack; Sibley Parks and Rec to add dugout benches and fence at the Central Park ball diamond; the Melvin Fire Department to replace gear; the Ocheyedan Senior Activity Center for updates; the Tracy House museum for preservation of building exteriors and a concrete pad; the Ashton Community Center for a sound system and surveillance equipment; the Girl Scouts for updates to the Sibley Legion Building; Osceola County Conservation for upgrades to the Ashton Wayside and Melvin DeGraaf parks; and Hawkeye Point for campground concrete pads.
The Sibley-Ocheyedan Science Club was awarded $4,500, to be used toward expansion of the Discovery Gardens Outdoor Classroom. Meanwhile, the following received grants of $3,750: Osceola County Sheriff’s Office for light bars to be replaced on patrol vehicles; VFW Post 7373 to purchase new refrigerators and freezers; American Legion Post 290 to purchase a descending U.S. Flag for the Sibley-Ocheyedan High School gymnasium; the Sibley Public Library to create a community space for a gathering place; the Osceola County Livestock Show committee to create a memorial park for past, present and future supporters of the Osceola County Fair; the Deboer Grocery Museum to use toward Phase 2 grounds renovation; the Sibley-Ocheyedan Band Boosters for purchase of a band trailer; the Melvin American Legion Auxiliary to replace a ramp and purchase a new flag box; New Beginnings for flooring; and the McCallum Museum/Brunson Heritage House for sesquicentennial street pole banners and an informational sign for the farm shed fundraiser.
The Ocheyedan Town Hall Renovation Committee was awarded $3,727.50 for an exterior cleaning project, and the Friends of the Sibley Public Library received $3,375 for the purchase of nesting tables to be used during youth programming.
Lighting improvements and upgrades will be funded with a $2,500 grant awarded to the Ashton Public Library, and description plaques will be purchased by the Osceola County Freedom Rock committee with its grant of $1,875.
The Melvin 313 Club was awarded $1,992.19 to purchase solar lights for the new city of Melvin sign, while Osceola County Emergency Management received a $1,268 grant for oil absorbent booms.
Finally, the Foster Grandparent Program of Greater Siouxland received a grant of $562.50
The Community Foundation of Osceola County is an affiliate of the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines, which provides grant-making guidance and administrative support.
The local foundation’s board includes representatives from all over Osceola County, including Brian Mino and Dan Grote of Ashton; Amy Muftah and Wayne Boyer of Harris; Kay Wynja and Sarah McCarter of Melvin; Joe McElroy and Kevin Hertz of Ocheyedan; Lila Hatting and Jerry Johnson of Sibley; and Ed Jones and Jayson VandeHoef of Osceola County. Ex-officio members are Nathan Rockman and Stephanie Neppl.