Local organizations seek votes in Community Aces Challenge

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Several local organizations need your vote as they compete to win a share of $50,000 in the Community Aces Challenge, sponsored by Isle of Capri Casinos, Inc.

The McGregor Park Board, Smith and Bulldog Childcare and Learning Centers and Luana Community and Recreation Center are three of the 150 groups from around the country competing for funds. Each group was accepted into the challenge after submitting an application toward the end of 2014. 

The competition is split into two categories—one for larger communities where Isle of Capri properties are located, and another for smaller communities, like Marquette. Within each category, one $15,000 grant and one $10,000 grant will go to the top vote-getters.

All voting for the challenge is done through Facebook, but there are two ways to access the voting page:

1) Go to communityaceschallenge.com. There, you can locate the project for which you would like to vote. You will be directed to access your Facebook account in order to do so.

2) Go to the Isle of Capri Casinos, Inc. Facebook page and click on the “Community Aces Challenge” tab. There, you can also search and vote for the project of your choice.

Voting began Feb. 1 and will run through March 20. Until then, you can vote for one project one time each day. Winners will be announced the week of April 6—National Volunteer Week. The grants will be given through the Isle’s Community Aces Fund, which is administered by the Greater Saint Louis Community Foundation.

The McGregor Park Board project, “Fitness for All Ages,” would make improvements to Turner Park, which was damaged by a tornado in 2013. The McGregor Park Board and city administrator, along with a group of interested parents and volunteers, have met monthly for the last year to develop plans to restore and improve the park. Working with a professional landscape architect, the group came up with a three-phase plan to upgrade Turner Park. After surveying local residents to get their input on the project, the group hopes to initiate phase I in the spring/summer of 2015. This project, which generated the greatest interest and support in the survey, is a one-fourth mile, 10-foot-wide, black-topped walking trail around the perimeter of Turner Park. This path will be adjacent to phase II, which will be the installation of new playground equipment. Phase III is a splash pad, which will  start after the first two phases are complete. The Community Aces Challenge grant request is for funds for the first phase, the walking/running/biking path around the park. The projected cost of this trail is $37,000. This money will be spent on site preparation, earth moving and the cost of blacktopping. 

The phase I trail will provide a safe, level, off-road area to walk, run or bike on for area residents. It will also be convenient for parents with children playing at the park, as well as residents at the nearby Great River Care Center and Turner Pointe Assisted Living. MFL MarMac has also expressed interest in using the trail for physical education courses and sports. The eventual splash pad should bring people from surrounding communities, as there is no similar set-up nearby. 

Smith and Bulldog Childcare and Learning Centers’ “Enrich our Classrooms” project would use funds to enhance the infant and toddler environments at both the McGregor and Monona centers. They hope to purchase rocking chairs for the infant rooms and would love to add more infant- and toddler-friendly learning materials, along with educational activity carpets, to enhance each room’s learning environment. The centers also hope to purchase a new copy machine/printer, as well as  new and interesting science and literacy learning materials for each classroom.

The two centers serve a combined 62 families and 87 children in the communities, providing an enriched environment where children can grow along with their peers in creativity, caring and a love of learning. These products will assist in maintaining and furthering that goal.

The Luana Community and Recreation Center’s “Project Rural Rehabilitation, Fitness and Wellness” would look to further Old School Rec’s mission of increasing the health and wellness of people living in Luana and the surrounding area. Their goal is to purchase additional equipment and continue to improve what has already been started in the nearly 100-year-old building.

A key element they would like to add is rehabilitation equipment. One specific piece of equipment the rec center would like to purchase is a NuStep cross trainer. Several members have used this machine while receiving physical therapy at the hospital, but have no access once their rehab is complete. This piece of equipment would benefit both young and old alike. Other equipment they would like to add to the facility is a rowing machine and an elliptical trainer. These, too, would help in the rehabilitation process, in addition to personal fitness and general wellbeing.

For more information about each group’s proposed project, visit their voting page.

Other groups from the area competing for funds include Substance Abuse Services of Clayton County for a youth leadership retreat, the Humane Society of Northeast Iowa, the Guttenberg Creativity Center and Shepherd Gallery, Prairie du Chien Skateboard Park, Couleecap Prairie du Chien Food Pantry and the Prairie du Chien Historical Society for its Fort Crawford Museum hospital building stabilization project. Local groups will also compete against other organizations located within 60 miles of casinos in Waterloo; Farmington (Nemacolin), Pa.; Lake Charles, La.; Boonville, Cape Girardeau and Caruthersville, Mo.; and Lula and Natchez, Miss.

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