The Vernon County Tourism, Promotion and Economic Development Committee (TPED) is pleased to announce the award of eight Community Grants totaling $30,000 to fund activities and projects that are centered on tourism, economic development, and/or community enhancement.

Established organizations in Vernon County like “Friends of” or economic development groups, nonprofits, local business owners (with community support) and municipalities were eligible to apply for micro-grants of up to $5,000 in February and March. At its meetings on March 25 and on April 1, the Vernon County TPED Committee carefully considered 44 Community Grant applications that totaled over $183,000 in requests.

“This was a competitive application and review process. The TPED Committee is very appreciative of the information forwarded and of the time and effort expended in preparing the applications. There were so many great proposals, but at the end of the day there was only so much available in funding,” said Rod Ofte, TPED chair.

The Vernon County Community Grant Program was made possible by monies allocated within the TPED Committees annual budget and Ho-Chunk grant funds. The total amount allotted for the first-ever Community Grant Program was $30,000.

“Engaging our local communities and organizations is extremely well aligned with the use of Ho Chunk funds and I think this process will show positive advancements in economic development and tourism,” said Adrian Amelse, TPED Committee member.

The eight Vernon County Community Grant awards (in no particular order) include:

• WDRT / WDRT Signal Increase Project: $5,000 to increase signal strength adding 1,300 square miles to coverage area. WDRT is a listener-supported, non-commercial educational radio station based in Viroqua.

• Coon Valley Business Association/Coon Creek Canoe Race: $5,000 to host a competitive canoe race and festival event on Aug. 24.

• Friends of Stoddard Park Board/Project Splash Pad: $5,000 to go towards to installation of a splash pad at the Stoddard Park.

• Friends of Readstown/Disc Golf and Hiking Trails: $5,000 for the completion of the Readstown disc golf course and adjacent hiking trails for all ages.

• Viroqua Area Foundation/Viroqua Mural: $500 to go towards the Viroqua Mural Project which will located at 106 N. Main St. and completed in August.

• Westby/Coon Valley American Legion Baseball/American Legion Class A State Baseball Tournament: $4,000 to host the 2019 Class A American Legion Baseball Tournament in Westby July 26-30.

• Driftless Wisconsin/Driftless Wisconsin Regional Website: $5,000 for re-development of Driftless Wisconsin’s regional tourism website.

• Friends of Bekkum Memorial Public Library/Community Bulletin Board: $500 for purchase and installation of outdoor community bulletin board for residents and visitors.

“The remarkable popularity of this first-time Community Grant program to encourage economic development and tourism in Vernon County shows clearly that there is a real need to increase our resources and support county-wide. There’s so much good work to be done and I look forward to learning from and building on this process,”said Christina Dollhausen, economic development coordinator

All the proposals awarded significantly aligned with tourism or economic development, demonstrated a community need, raised visibility of Vernon County, proved measurable impact, had substantial match and will be utilizing local businesses and resources whenever possible to implement their projects.

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