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Bonner organizations receive $34,000 in casino grant funding

June 17, 2015

More than $34,000 has been awarded to two Bonner Springs organizations to help improve the health of the community.

Last week, at the Unified Government’s Board of County Commissioners meeting, the recipients of this year’s charitable grants funded through the Hollywood Casino revenues were announced. There did seem to be one small glitch — Vaughn-Trent Community Services and the Bonner Springs-Edwardsville Education Foundation didn’t know they would receive the money until this week.

“They just sent me a $15,000 check in the mail; I didn’t even get a letter in the mail informing me I’d get a check,” Rachael Nickerson, director of Vaughn-Trent, said. “I just happened to find out last week because someone I know went to the meeting (when they announced the recipients).”

Similarly, Jerry Abbott with the Education Foundation said the school district hadn’t heard anything until they checked the mail Tuesday morning, at the recommendation of Nickerson, to find a $19,230 check.

Part of the Unified Government’s conditions in the contract for Hollywood Casino, which opened in 2011, would be that a portion of its revenues be given to charities or nonprofit organizations in the county. This year, each county commissioner was given a say in which organizations would be recipients of those funds.

The decision also was made that, in line with the county’s health initiative, the grants would be given to organizations seeking to improve the health of county residents.

So Nickerson said Vaughn-Trent applied to initiate a fresh foods program to offer fresh, hopefully locally grown, produce for their clients.

“I’m excited because our clients, several of them expressed an interest in trying to eat healthier and improve their nutrition, so this should be a way to help them accomplish that,” Nickerson said.

Vaughn-Trent already provides food baskets out of its food pantry to low-income residents who qualify, and free bread and pastries to any who come to its downtown Bonner Springs office on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings.

Nickerson said the organization will sporadically get donations of produce from area groups, but nothing consistent. She said Vaughn-Trent would use the grant funds to contract with someone, preferably a local farm or company, which can supply produce throughout the year that the grant funds are meant to last.

Vaughn-Trent also first will have to do some office renovations to accommodate a refrigerator for produce, so Nickerson said she hopes the program can start around August.

The Education Foundation applied for a grant to award funding three Bonner Springs High School programs: bringing a certified nursing assistant certification program on-campus, training seven staff members to be CPR instructors in order to train the CNA students, and potentially creating an interactive walkway through the BSHS campus.

Kristi Hoffine, director of secondary education, said the district has had a partnership with Kansas City Kansas Community College for students to earn their CNA, but the students had to travel to the college’s campus.

The grant will allow the district to continue to partner with the college but bring the courses onsite at BSHS.

“They’d have to transfer and go for about a three- to four-hour chunk of the day,” Hoffine said. “Now they’ll be on our campus, have it first and second hour, and be able to take other courses. The travel time is gone.”

Hoffine said the district also has partnered with Bonner Springs Nursing and Rehabilitation to allow CNA students to complete their clinicals in the city as well.

That and the CPR program may take most of the funding, but if funds remain, the district hopes to put in a campus walkway with exercise stations on campus similar to what the city of Bonner Springs has on its walking trail.

Hoffine said she hopes to get the students involved in creation of the walkway, by having health-course students determine the exercise stations needed, the technical students build some of the equipment, and a senior project to help organize the effort or installation.

Originally published at: http://www.bonnersprings.com/news/2015/jun/17/bonner-organizations-receive-34000-casino-grant-fu/