Ball fields, hotel study among uses for small-town grants | Local News

St. CLAIR — A new ball field, a hotel feasibility study and a Day of the Dead celebration are among projects receiving recent grants in south-central Minnesota.

The Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, or SMIF, announced its support for 22 projects totaling $190,215 as part of its Small Town Grant Program this week.

The list of grant recipients and projects in area communities includes:

• $10,000 to Blue Earth Economic Development Authority supporting the “BE Welcoming Project,” which works on diversity, equity and inclusion projects. The project is planning a Day of the Dead Festival, will bring language classes and resources to Blue Earth and will create a bilingual community calendar.

• $10,000 to the city of Lafayette for a safety ramp to the new bandstand platform.

• $5,000 to the city of Lake Crystal for an analysis on whether a hotel is feasible.

• $10,000 to the Sleepy Eye EDA for a walking tour brochure and signage for historic buildings in town.

• $10,000 to the city of Springfield to go toward a veterans memorial park.

• $2,940 to the city of Winnebago for the creation of a promotional video encouraging people to move to the city.

• $10,000 to Mapleton Area Foundation for entrepreneurial outreach efforts, including business education events and creation of an online toolbox supporting business development.

• $2,400 to Ney Environmental Education Foundation in Le Sueur for a pollinator garden teaching lab for Le Sueur-Henderson School and the general public on school grounds.

• $10,000 to St. Clair Public Schools to work with volunteers on developing a community youth baseball and softball field.

St. Clair’s ball field project could start this fall and be ready in May 2023, said Supt. Tim Collins.

Voters in the school district approved a bond referendum in November 2021, which included some funding for outdoor athletic facilities.

SMIF’s grant is very much appreciated and will support the bond funding, Collins said.

“That helped in applying for this grant because we were able to say we did have some matching dollars already from our community,” he said.

Currently, a shortage of athletic fields in St. Clair means junior high school softball and baseball teams share the city’s field, sometimes practicing at the same time. The new field will be a combination field, able to convert from softball to baseball baselines.

The grant will also help with dugouts and a batting cage, and youth programs in the city will also use the field, Collins said.

The SMIF grant program began in 2017 and has awarded funding to 91 projects in total.

Follow Brian Arola @BrianArola


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