Lyon County, community reaping benefits from casino profits
The Rock Rapids Fire Department has received grant money from the Lyon County Riverboat Foundation to replace old bunker gear and equipment.
ROCK RAPIDS, Iowa (KTIV) -
Grand Falls Casino has been open in Larchwood, Iowa, for almost two years now. Lyon County officials say it's already boosted business, and brought jobs to the community.
Ed Reck has been Rock Rapids' fire chief for three years. In the past few months, his crew has seen several upgrades inside its station.
"We felt like our old bunker gear was becoming unsafe, that it was out of compliance," said Reck.
So, that gear was replaced, as well as some rescue tools.
"Jaws of life, Power plant, the jaws, the spreader, the cutter," said Reck.
Reck says they can thank the Grand Falls Casino Resort for that.
"We'd have to plan ahead multiple years to get those into the budget," said Reck.
You see, the casino gives some of their revenue to the Lyon County Riverboat Foundation, a nonprofit group. From there, the money gets distributed to schools, the county and cities.
The remaining 50 percent goes to competitive grants for long-term projects, to keep groups in town, like the fire department, ticking.
"They were big ticket items. Our budget doesn't allow us to buy all that stuff at once. So, this really helped to even out the cost on that stuff," said Reck.
But it's not just the fire crews that are reaping the rewards. Eighteen groups got grants from the foundation. Playground equipment has already been replaced, and a local day care center is getting money to move into a bigger facility.
It's also meant renovations to downtown storefronts.
"It's always an encouragement and provides incentive for people in our community to initiate projects on their own when they see things happening," said Jordan Kordahl, a Rock Rapids city administrator.
One of the big things the grant money has allowed them to do is to expand the size of these trails. In the last year, they've more than doubled their size to about 1.5 miles, and there are plans to expand even further within the next year.
"Throughout the town and up to the golf course," said Kordahl.
And Reck hopes that money keeps flowing to the department and the whole community.
"It's a wonderful program and I hope they continue doing it," said Reck.
Since the program started, Rock Rapids has received $127,000 in competitive grant funding, which is subject to the completion of all of their projects.
They've received an additional $91,000 in quarterly distributions from the riverboat foundation since the casino opened. Local schools have received about $525,000.