Lyon Co. non-profits to see boost from casino cash - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Lyon Co. non-profits to see boost from casino cash

NEAR LARCHWOOD, Iowa (KTIV) -- For more than two years now, the prospect of a casino project has been a hot topic in Lyon County. Not only are many folks looking forward to a new, major entertainment option, organizations are counting on cashing in on casino profits.

It might be difficult to imagine, but a little over a year from now, rolling acres near Larchwood, Iowa will be home to Lyon County's largest employer, providing more than 700 people with jobs. The casino project promises big things for local churches, schools and cities.

"It can assist us with a lot of things, a lot of needs," says West Lyon Elementary Principal Tim Snyder.

Leaders in the West Lyon School District are excited about an estimated $200,000 coming their way. In the middle of last school year, the district was forced to cut $350,000 from its budget, putting an end to most spending.

Snyder says, "We didn't purchase new textbooks this year. We're reading textbooks that are ten years old."

But West Lyon, along with Lyon County's two other districts and parochial schools, will all get their share of a percentage of casino profits, distributed by the Lyon County Riverboat Foundation.

Schools will collect a quarter of the estimated $2.5 million, while cities and counties will get another 25%. The other half of the money will go towards grants that any Lyon County non-profit organization can apply for.

Lyon County Riverboat Foundation president Jeff Gallagher says, "Whatever the projects are, whatever we can do to help the people of Lyon County, that's what we're interested in doing."

The Riverboat Foundation will soon begin going around to communities, getting a feel for their needs.

"We know that Rock Rapids is looking at a new hospital. That's going to take a lot more money than maybe another community that's looking at remodeling their swimming pool," Gallagher said.

Even with the money, West Lyon says it will take a conservative approach to its budgeting.

"You only spend what you make and that's how we operate as a school, and this is just an additional income that we think will be nice," Snyder said.

The casino foundation hopes to start divvying out the money right after the casino opens, which is slated for July 2011. The foundation is still working out the details regarding when and how the money will be distributed.

Online Reporter: Zach Tecklenburg

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