Auditorium awarded $2.5 millionRiverboat Foundation gives 31 grants during spring cycle
RIVERSIDE—At last evening’s Washington County Riverboat Foundation (WCRF) Board meeting the largest grant ever was awarded.
It went to the Washington Betterment Committee for $2.5 million for a new auditorium at Washington High School.
The projected cost for the auditorium is $7 million.
“It’s just wonderful to have this kind of support,” Washington Betterment Committee member Bob Youngquist said.
Youngquist taught choir in the Washington Community School District for 41 years. He said the auditorium would give much-needed space and time to the performing arts department over at the high school.
Currently, the performing arts department uses the gym for rehearsals. Youngquist said he remembers that sometimes the gym wouldn’t be available for rehearsal because a sporting event was taking place.
“What people don’t realize is the amount of time that goes into rehearsals,” he said. “For musicals we had 10 weeks of rehearsals and eight weeks for plays.”
One of the benefits of having the auditorium would be easy access.
“The auditorium is a classroom,” Youngquist said, “and as such it must be readily available to students and educators every day before, during, and after school, all year and even during the summer.”
Jan Gallagher, who taught speech in the district for 30 years, doesn’t want the auditorium to just benefit Washington Community School District (WCSD) students.
“It would benefit the whole community,” she said. “We’re getting as many students and as many organizations as we can to make it a very used building.”
The fundraising process isn’t complete even with the WCRF grant.
“We’re still having small organizational meetings and sending people out to solicit funds and we’ll continue to do that,” Gallagher said.
This grant puts the committee at the halfway point for the building project, Youngquist and Gallagher said.
The second highest grant of $250,000 over two years was awarded to the Kalona Fire Department for a front line engine. The new truck will replace the one the department has been using since 1985.
The third highest grant went to the Washington County Hospitals and Clinics for $100,000, which will be used to buy a centralized computer system and new patient beds.
Before the award ceremony the foundation voted on the grants. Five board members abstained from voting on grants. WCRF president Patricia Koller abstained from voting on the grant for the Washington Community YMCA Wellness Park and Riverside study and from voting on the Washington Betterment Committee grant for the auditorium at the high school, where she teaches. Tracey Ousey abstained from voting on the Washington County Hospital grant. Ed Raber abstained from voting on the City of Washington grant for tennis court improvements, the City of Washington grant for cemetery monument restoration, and the Washington Betterment Committee grant for the high school auditorium. Adam Richards abstained from voting on the grant for Mid-Prairie School District improvements the baseball field and the Washington County Hospital grant.
The WCRF awarded $3,399,376 to 31 grant applicants. This year they received 94 grant requests for the spring.