Casino nonprofit donates $1 million

Published 7:00 am Thursday, November 22, 2012

By Kristin Buehner, Mason City Globe-Gazette

NORTHWOOD — The Worth County Board of Supervisors came $1 million closer Monday to paying the costs of a $3.3 million water and wastewater treatment plant at the Diamond Jo Casino intersection.

The Worth County Development Authority presented a $1 million check to the county for the infrastructure that supporters say is needed to attract new development around the casino.

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“What a day!” Supervisor Chairman Ken Abrams said. “It’s sure going to help.”

The grant is the single largest award given out by the WCDA — a nonprofit corporation formed to distribute casino revenue — in its six years of existence, said WCDA Chairman Dan Reeder.

It will be the only grant given during the fall 2012 grant award cycle, which is reserved for community projects.

“It does not include one dollar of education funds,” Reeder said, referring to WCDA’s annual grants and scholarships to local schools which will be awarded in the spring as usual.

“We felt that we have done so much for the county and North Iowa since the first grant cycle in 2006,” Reeder said of the decision to give one lump sum to the county.

“But we’ve always said that if there could be a large marquee project for the whole county we’d like to get behind it. And this is going to help the whole county.”

The county was also presented with its semi-annual WCDA check in the amount of $153,049.99.

The awards bring to $24 million the total grant amounts awarded by the WCDA, Reeder said.

A completion date of September 2013 is targeted for the infrastructure project, which was initiated after Xenia Rural Water District withdrew from construction in June 2008 for financial reasons.

The supervisors made the decision to purchase the existing infrastructure from Xenia and complete the project.

Reeder said “the vast, vast majority of people” are behind it.

That includes Worth County’s 36 township trustees, who voted unanimous support to give the county the entire proceeds from the fall grant cycle.

Grove Township Trustee Dan Hendrikson said the trustees believe the infrastructure will bring in new development.

“Now we can move forward,” he said.

Reeder said anything the county can do to attract new business will expand the county’s tax base, which is crucial in light of a shrinking population base.

“I think you’re going to be surprised what’s going to come out of this project,” Reeder said. “There’s a lot of things on the drawing board.”

In other action, the supervisors heard a request to purchase five acres of county land northwest of the Diamond Jo intersection by Al and Jerry Brunsvold, owners of A&J Enterprises in Lake Mills.

They propose using the land to build a ready-mix concrete plant.

County Attorney Jeff Greve told them there will have to be a public hearing on the proposal. The supervisors also want to check with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources before proceeding.

The Brunsvolds said they would like to have a plant up and running by the spring.

Discussion will continue and, if appropriate, details about a price will be worked out, Abrams said.