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Community Betterment Fundraising

KwikStar Donated $1,000 to Le Mars Area Betterment Foundation in April 2021 during the Open House

Postal Playhouse receives $100,000 grant

Friday, August 4, 2017

By Thomas Schreiber, news reporter

(Sentinel Photo by Kim Fickett) At left, the Postal Playhouse North Addition project will soon be underway, thanks to an $100,000 grant from The Gilchrist Foundation of Sioux City. The addition will see the theatre’s backstage and production area substantially expand.

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LE MARS — A proposed project at the Postal Playhouse is one step closer to reality, thanks to a source outside Plymouth County.

The Le Mars Community Theatre has received a $100,000 grant from the The Gilchrist Foundation of Sioux City, for the theatre’s proposed North Addition project.

“In the early spring, Scott Langel (Le Mars city administrator) applied to the LABF (Le Mars Area Betterment Foundation) on our behalf for the $100,000 we were looking for to add the addition to the theatre,” Community Theatre Board President Danna Schuster said. “A lot of the funds the LABF had to work with at that time had already been designated to other projects, so they had to table our request.”

The Gilchrist Foundation, which provides incentives and funds to pre-selected nonprofit organizations in the arts, wildlife and conservation, and public broadcasting, got wind of the proposed addition, and encouraged the LABF to apply for a grant through the foundation.

LABF Board President Mike Donlin said the group received word last week of the funding.

“We’re just so very grateful that we could find this kind of fit, one foundation helping another. We certainly mean to pay it forward and do the same kind of thing,” Donlin said.

The $100,000 will go towards the North Addition project, which Schuster explained in detail.

“We are going to build about 14 feet out and 40 feet wide from the back end of the building,” Schuster said. “Basically it’s going to allow us some more flexibility in staging productions, better technical abilities and more storage. When that building was built 100 years ago as a post office, the things we’re trying to do now weren’t thought of at that time.”

“It’s going to give us a lot more flexibility and capability as far as what productions we can stage. If anybody has ever been in our backstage area they know it’s pretty tight,” she said. “Possibly we’ll be able to have larger casts and do some shows that weren’t in our realm before. Anytime you can see a show that has a better technical scene, you always enjoy that a little bit more.”

Schuster emphasized support from The Gilchrist Foundation benefits not only the theatre, but the community at large.

“Over the years at the theatre, we’ve always tried to do things within the scope of what we are able to generate and do by ourselves, and of course this project was going to be bigger than that,” she said. “We’ve always been thrilled to do what we wanted to do without having to ask the community or our supporters for a lot of extra funding.”

Now that funding has been secured, the hope is for work to begin later this month or early September.

“We have our ducks in a row at the theater. We have everything moved out that we need and we’re ready to roll as soon as somebody calls,” Schuster said.

The outpouring of community and financial support isn’t lost on those involved with the theater.

“”It makes us feel like what we’re doing is important and maybe as important to other people as it is to us,” Schuster concluded.

Two LABF donations announced

Friday, October 6, 2017

By Beverly Van Buskirk, Lifestyles editor

LE MARS — Mike Donlin, Le Mars Area Betterment Foundation chair, updated the Le Mars City Council on fundraising efforts for the CPB II projects, and announced two donations.

“Right now the amount raised in terms of pledges and actual donations is at $5,133,436.81,” Donlin said.

He said the foundation board has been channeling money to the various projects the city has done as they are completed.

At its last meeting, the foundation board issued $214,000 to the city for three projects, the Municipal Park Ponds, the Municipal Park Shelterhouse project and the skateboard park.

“We also did that brick project where we will have bricks with names, memorial names or business names,” Donlin said. “That so far has raised $5,550 at $250 per brick.”

The foundation is still taking donations for the bricks, as the project where they will be used has not been slated for work. There is still time for people to participate in that fundraising project.

“I also received work of an in-kind donation that I feel is worth mentioning,” Donlin said. “Ruhland Nurseries, as part of its work doing various landscaping aspects of our projects, has committed to an in-kind donation of $27,000 worth of tress that will be part of this project. That’s the whole total of trees, but that is a wonderful, generous gesture on the part of Ruhland Nurseries. I hope we all appreciate that.”

A chorus of “we do’s” followed that announcement.

A second donation was made in person by members of the Le Mars Eagles Club.

“On behalf of the Le Mars Eagles Club, chapter 1381, of Le Mars, we would like to present the city betterment foundation a check for $1,000 as our part of giving back to the community as well as other charities we support,” Christopher Langel, Eagles Club president said.

Also present were Eagles Club secretary Jim Burnett and trustee Dennis Toel.

That presentation was greeted with a round of applause from the council and audience.

Mailing helps cast a wide net

Monday, August 14, 2017

By Thomas Schreiber, news reporter

LE MARS — As fundraising efforts continue for the Le Mars Area Betterment Foundation (LABF), the foundation is casting an even wider net in search of donations.

LABF Board President Mike Donlin explained a mailing campaign saw over 5,200 letters sent out in early August, seeking donations of $250 in return for ownership of a brick with the donor’s name on it.

Donlin said the bricks will be placed at one of three CBP2 projects: the Le Mars Municipal Park Shelterhouse, the Olson Cultural Event Center, and the Le Mars Municipal Park Clubhouse near the campground.

“This is a supplemental fundraising effort in support of the overall campaign,” Donlin said. “We actually did three mailings. There were 220 or so folks who gave $250 already. We did a smaller mailing, a couple dozen, to people who made donations less than $250. The larger mailing, close to 5,000 addressees in our area, are just invited to give any kind of donation, but at least $250.”

“An example we looked at that did this similar kind of thing was over on the east side of St. Joe’s Church. They did memorial bricks in a little gathering place on the outside,” Donlin continued.

If someone wasn’t included in the mailing, Donlin said donation forms are available at Le Mars City Hall, 40 Central Ave. South; the Le Mars Area Chamber of Commerce, 50 Central Ave. South; or in the administrative office at Floyd Valley Healthcare.

To secure a brick, Donlin said donations must be in by Aug. 31.

“We’re going to produce the bricks in September so whatever we have as of Aug. 31 is what we’re going to produce,” Donlin said. “There will be an opportunity to clump together some based on donations beyond that, but they won’t be in the initial effort. That’s meant to stay in sync with the actual execution of the project.”

Donlin concluded the purpose of the mailing campaign is two-fold.

“We cast the net as widely as we could to invite people to participate and make a gift to their community,” he said. “I think it’s a good way to accomplish, one, raising more money, and two, recognizing the donors. We’re not doing a donor wall, it will be more of a scavenger hunt to find where your brick is.”

Fundraising is in full swing for LABF

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

By Thomas Schreiber, news reporter


(Sentinel Photo by Thomas Schreiber) The Le Mars Area Betterment Foundation (LABF) is continuing fundraising efforts to help support Le Mars CBP2 projects. Pictured, from left, Le Mars Mayor Dick Kirchoff, LABF Board President Mike Donlin, Le Mars City Councilman John Rexwinkel, LABF Board Member Angie Erdmann, and Donlin’s Executive Assistant Teresa Sauer.

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LE MARS — There is no end in sight for fundraising efforts by the Le Mars Area Betterment Foundation (LABF).

Though the foundation met its initial fundraising goal of matching the $2.5 million Wells Enterprises, Inc. donation for the CBP2 projects in early April, LABF Board President Mike Donlin expects the fundraising to keep chugging along.

“In our published material, we show that the 10 projects could amount to as much as $8 million, so there’s another $3 million that could be called a goal,” Donlin said. “The financial target is just a tool and just an estimate. The execution of the project is almost as important as the target you set.”

At the Tuesday, Aug. 1 Le Mars City Council meeting, Donlin reported the total amount raised for CBP2, including the Wells donation, was $5.122 million.

“The most significant gifts after that (the Wells donation) have been made by local financial institutions,” Donlin said. “Their contributions were at least five, if not six figures over time. Capital campaigns as I have come to know them have a quiet phase while you’re speaking with folks you think might be able to give meaningful gifts to get the ball rolling.”

NIPCO supports CBP2
Friday, July 7, 2017














(Sentinel Photo by Beverly Van Buskirk)

The Le Mars Community Betterment Foundation received a donation of $7,500 from Northwest Iowa Power Cooperative at Thursday’s Le Mars City Council meeting. Angela Catton, Manager of Member Relations and Development for NIPCO, said the one time donation is a combination of $2,500 from NIPCO and with two grants: a $2,500 grant from the Sharing Success Program of CoBank, NIPCO’s financing partner and $2,500 from Basic Electric Power Cooperative based in Bismarck, North Dakota, NIPCO’s primary power supplier. Catton said many employees live in the Le Mars area and the company wanted to make a contribution to the project while being mindful of its member-owned status.

Shelterhouse redesign revealed: CBP2 dollars put to work
Friday, July 7, 2017













By Thomas Schreiber, news reporter


(Sentinel Photo by Kim Fickett) At left, Le Mars Mayor Dick Kirchoff speaks to a large crowd who gathered at the Municipal Park Shelterhouse to celebrate its recent renovations. The shelterhouse project was one of 10 in the second phase of the Community Betterment Projects.

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LE MARS — After years of planning, the second round of Le Mars Community Betterment Projects are in full swing.

The first CBP2 project to be completed, the Le Mars Municipal Park Shelterhouse, under construction since February, will open its doors to visitors this weekend.

The renovation more than doubled maximum capacity, from 75 to 200 people, and Le Mars City Administrator Scott Langel spoke in-depth about the project.

“Work isn’t completely finished but we had a soft opening Thursday because people are going to start renting it,” Langel said. “We’ve got rentals for Friday and Saturday of this week, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of next week, and Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of the following week.”

For the most part, interior work is finished, according to Langel.

“We gutted out the interior storage room and we opened it up to the main banquet room by adding three arches in the inter-connecting wall,” Langel said. “We gutted the whole storage area from the ceiling on down. We refurbished the rafters because we’ve got an open rafter look throughout the entire building. We added a bar in that storage area and we added a catering kitchen in that storage area. There is a corresponding buffet table mounted in that space.”

“We built tables, chairs, and benches for the interior of the space. It has got all new plumbing and all new electric,” Langel continued.

There is still work to be done on the extension, and Langel added he hopes everything is completed by the end of June.

“We’re going to still be putting in an access lane down to near the front door and the catering door. We’re going to be replacing some of the damaged sidewalks around the perimeter of the building,” Langel said. “We’re adding a gabled roof entry on the front door yet and we’re going to spruce up the outdoor courtyard on the northeast corner of the building.”

“Inside the courtyard will be a circular wood burn pit. There will be a double-sided wood grilling space that will have an arbor above it and then there will be a separate arbor that people can sit under along another wall. That whole space will then be enclosed with a wrought iron fence,” Langel continued.

Langel added windows and exterior doors are also being replaced.

With work nearing completion, the $350,000 project was unveiled to the public at an open house Thursday afternoon.

Mayor Dick Kirchoff, Le Mars Area Betterment Foundation Board President Mike Donlin, and Langel addressed over 150 community members who had gathered to see the new and improved shelterhouse.

“It’s really rewarding to see such a great turnout for our first celebration of the Le Mars Area Betterment Foundation CBP2 projects,” Kirchoff said. “One of the things that has always stood out, whether it be from local residents, visitors looking at us, or industries coming to town, is quality of life in Le Mars.”

Donlin added his own piece, thanking donors for helping the LABF in its fundraising efforts.

“There are some very generous and very committed people in our community that stepped up and offered to help,” Donlin said.

And the goal has been met

Tuesday, April 4, 2017












(Sentinel Photo by Beverly Van Buskirk)

The Le Mars Community Betterment Foundation received a donation of $7,500 from Northwest Iowa Power Cooperative at Thursday’s Le Mars City Council meeting. Angela Catton, Manager of Member Relations and Development for NIPCO, said the one time donation is a combination of $2,500 from NIPCO and with two grants: a $2,500 grant from the Sharing Success Program of CoBank, NIPCO’s financing partner and $2,500 from Basic Electric Power Cooperative based in Bismarck, North Dakota, NIPCO’s primary power supplier. Catton said many employees live in the Le Mars area and the company wanted to make a contribution to the project while being mindful of its member-owned status.

CBP2 projects get huge boost from area supporters
Wednesday, March 8, 2017









(Sentinel Photos by Thomas Schreiber) The Le Mars Area Betterment Foundation received three donations at Tuesday’s city council meeting. The Le Mars Kiwanis Club donated $2,000 towards the second phase of the Community Betterment projects to Le Mars Mayor Dick Kirchoff and foundation president Mike Donlin. Campbell’s Electric Co-Owner Stephanie Campbell presents a check for $1,000. Donegal Insurance General Manager Rick Mason and Secretary Connie Sudtelgte present a $35,000 check in support of the projects.

Iowa State Bank celebrates opening, supports Le Mars
Wednesday, November 30, 2016











(Sentinel Photos by Kim Fickett) Le Mars Area Chamber of Commerce representatives, City of Le Mars officials, Iowa State Bank employees and community members came together on Tuesday morning at a chamber coffee to celebrate the grand opening of the bank's new Le Mars location. The bank, located at 301 Plymouth St. N.W., employs seven staff members and offers a variety of services including: personal banking, business banking, investments, online banking, loans, and much more. The addition of the Le Mars location, makes for the ninth Iowa State Bank in northwest Iowa. Following the ribbon cutting, Scott Kooiman, vice-president of Iowa State Bank in Le Mars, presented Mike Donlin, Le Mars Area Betterment Foundation president and Le Mars Mayor Dick Kirchoff with a pledge of $25,000 in support of phase two of the Community Betterment Projects. The donation will be divided over five years, contributing $5,000 towards the project each year.

Hy-Vee presents check for CBP2 projects
Monday, October 24, 2016









By Thomas Schreiber, news reporter

(Sentinel Photo by Thomas Schreiber) Le Mars Hy-Vee Store Manager Greg Rottinghaus (center) is flanked by Le Mars Mayor Dick Kirchoff (left) and LABF Board President Mike Donlin (right) as he presents a check for $10,000 to the city and LABF at the council meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 18.

LE MARS -- At the Oct. 18 Le Mars City Council meeting, Le Mars Mayor Dick Kirchoff and Mike Donlin, Le Mars Area Betterment Foundation board president, accepted a $10,000 check from the Le Mars Hy-Vee for the Le Mars CBP2 Betterment Projects.

Greg Rottinghaus, the Le Mars Hy-Vee store manager, was at the meeting to present the LABF and city with the check.

"I'm very proud to come here today, as you know Hy-Vee is a firm believer in making the community we operate in strong," Rottinghaus said. "When I was approached with this opportunity I thought it was an absolute no-brainer and so did our board of directors."

Donlin also updated the council on LABF fundraising efforts.

"For the match of the generous $2.5 million Wells contribution we have just a little over $300,000 to go," Donlin said. "We have efforts underway to accomplish that."

Donlin added the LABF has already started paying the city for several projects.

"We have begun the actual execution of our purpose helping projects actually come to fruition," Donlin said. "So we're very pleased to let the community know that it's working just as we had designed in the mission of our foundation."

Also at the Oct. 18 meeting, City Building Inspector Greg Smidt reported on building permits in Le Mars.

"Last year we issued 122 different permits," Smidt said. "Right now we are at 89. Our numbers from last year, our total income and permit revenue was $70,000 and we are currently, at the end of September, at almost $73,000. Our revenue has already increased even though our numbers aren't there yet."

Smidt also spoke to the valuation of buildings in Le Mars.

"Last year our total valuation of structures, this is everything from new homes, commercial, signage, fences, the whole works, we were just short of $15.5 million," Smidt said. "This year we are just about to $17 million so we have already increased our valuation through the month of September as compared to the entire year last year."

In other business the council approved four other action items, including: a motion accepting the Floyd Valley Healthcare audit report for the year that ended June 30, 2016; setting the Nov. 1 council meeting as the date for a public hearing on a new airport zoning ordinance to comply with the Federal Aviation Administration; three separate motions updating the city's fire prevention code of the City of Le Mars Code of Ordinances; and a motion accepting the public improvements for the KNS second addition, subject to uncompleted closeout items.

The council also approved two consent items in one motion, a Powder Players Snowmobile Club request to utilize city lands for a snowmobile route from Highway 3 to Highway 75, and a motion authorizing an additional extension to August 2018 for a $33,000 loan given to the Le Mars Business Initiative Corporation in 2013.

The next council meeting is scheduled for noon, Tuesday, Nov. 1 at Le Mars City Hall in the council chambers.

Schuster’s Trucking Company Pledges $175,000 To Community Betterment - KLEM

By Klem Web Team -
Jun 21, 2016















(Le Mars) — Schuster’s Trucking Company of Le Mars presented a check in the amount
of $25,000 this morning to the Le Mars Area Betterment Foundation as part of the
Community Betterment project. The donation is part of the local trucking company’s
financial commitment of $175,000 over the next seven years. Steve Schuster,
president and owner of the Schuster Trucking Company says the company is fortunate
to be based in a growing community.

Schuster’s employ more than 400 people and operate a fleet of more than 375 trucks.
This is the second time the local trucking firm has contributed to the Community
Betterment Project. Steve Schuster says the truck company also stepped forward the
first time of the Betterment Project.

Mike Donlin, president of the Le Mars Area Betterment Foundation accepted the
check. Donlin says he is appreciative of Schuster’s leadership and financial
commitment. He says the financial pledge will help with recruiting efforts of
other community businesses.
Donlin says with the Schuster financial pledge, the Community Betterment Foundation
is over half way to meeting the challenge of $2 and a half million established
initially by Wells Enterprises.

The Le Mars Area Betterment Foundation president says the foundation is beginning
to receive donations and contributions from individuals to go towards the community
betterment project.

Northwest Bank donates to CBP2 – Le Mars Daily Sentinel Article

Wednesday, April 6, 2016











LE MARS -- Kevin Eekhoff, market president of Northwest Bank was joined by his staff and Le Mars Area Betterment Foundation (LABF) President, Mike Donlin to acknowledge a $175,000 contribution to the LABF Foundation for Community Betterment.
Their donation is a combination of actual cash value for the acquisition of Royal III Theater and a pledge over time to the overall Community Betterment Campaign.

"Northwest Bank joins several of our local financial institutions who are taking a lead role in making Le Mars a better place to work, live and play." said LABF President, Mike Donlin.

Eekhoff added, "Northwest Bank takes pride in supporting the community of Le Mars and the many projects that make our community a better place to work and live in. Northwest Bank employees and Directors support our communities by not only donating their time and talents but also donating financial resources. Our hope is this donation will help to continue to improve the quality of life in Le Mars and the process of matching the $2.5 million matching grant from Wells Enterprises, Inc."

CBP II project gains early pledges – Le Mars Sentinel Article

Wednesday, March 16, 2016
By Beverly Van Buskirk, Lifestyles editor












LE MARS -- Le Mars city councilman Rex Knapp kicked off Tuesday's council meeting with announcements of three pledges to the Community Better Project (CBP) II.
The pledges come in response to the $2.5 million challenge grant from Wells Enterprises Inc. to match donations dollar for dollar for quality of life projects in Le Mars.

Some projects on the horizon for the CBP II list include the municipal park ponds, improvements at the shelter house, expanding the recreation trail system, the Olson Cultural Event Center and the Ply-Wood bike trail.

Tuesday, Kingsley State Bank vice president and office manager Donley Hoogeveen announced the bank's board of directors will pledge $175,000 to the CPB II project.
"I think Wells has done a phenomenal service to the community with this grant and we can piggyback on that," Hoogeveen said.

As a bicyclist, Hoogeveen said having the bike trails was important to him.

American Bank President Paul Jacobson then took to the podium.

"On behalf of American Bank, our board has approved a commitment of $210,000," Jacobson told the council and audience assembled Tuesday.

"Quality of life is one of those great intangibles that we can build upon," Jacobson said. "Banks grow as our community grows. Our board was very supportive of the earlier announcement."

Knapp said a third donor was unable to be present at Tuesday's council meeting.

"Matt Ahlers of Primebank was not able to be here today," Knapp said. "Speaking on behalf of the board, they would like to pledge $150,000 to the project."

According to Knapp, Ahlers said the community has been very good to them, so they hope to use this with other grants and matches going forward.

Knapp said he expects to make more announcements at the next city council meeting as well as in the future.

Also speaking was Mike Donlin, a member of the Le Mars Area Betterment Foundation, which is coordinating the fundraising project.

"I want to echo my appreciation for these initial gifts," Donlin said.

The nine-member board have been meeting since the Wells challenge grant announcement to organize its efforts in seeking donations, including support from its board members.

"While sitting here before the meeting with a fellow board member, he filled out a pledge card for the campaign," Donlin said.

He announced Jerry Reardon had made a $50,000 pledge.

Le Mars Mayor Dick Kirchoff said the participation shown at Tuesday's council meeting was a perfect example of the three P's -- public private partnership.

A challenge to improve quality of life – Le Mars Daily Sentinel Article

Monday, February 15, 2016
By Beverly Van Buskirk, Lifestyles editor















LE MARS -- Quality of life projects in Le Mars received a big boost Monday with the announcement of a $2.5 million challenge grant from Wells Enterprises, Inc.
Le Mars city council member and mayor pro-tem Rex Knapp, representing the Le Mars Area Betterment Foundation, made the announcement at a press conference in city hall Monday afternoon.

"Approximately a dozen years ago numerous citizens were approaching the city council with requests for various quality of life improvements that the city council should undertake," Knapp said. "The city council then and now believes that property taxes should not pay for quality of life improvements but contributions from business and individuals should provide the capital for those items."

Between 2002 and 2003 approximately $3.5 million was raised to complete various projects with no property taxes being used, he said.

"Today we are starting a fund-raising campaign for the next projects identified as quality of life improvements in Le Mars," Knapp said. "Wells Enterprises is excited to provide a $2.5 million matching grant over the next seven years towards those improvements."

The $2.5 million is a challenge grant in that Wells will match dollar-for-dollar every dollar raised by business and individuals up to $2.5 million, he said.

"So no matter whether you are a big business that will pledge thousands or the small bridge club that wants to give a few dollars, all dollars will be matched," Knapp said.

Mike Wells, CEO of Wells Enterprises, said Wells is extremely excited and proud to be able to offer the challenge grant.

Mike and his wife Cheryl have lived in Le Mars almost 23 years, and though they didn't grow up in the community, Le Mars is home.

"We are excited to live here and work here and now this opportunity is now made available through the continued success of Wells Enterprises. It will make this a better community, a better community to work, a better place to live, a better place to raise our families, and we could not be more excited," Wells said.

Wells said he also believes in public/private partnership.

"We hope that our lead on the private side allows others to step up and join us and come along side by side with us and raise this important money. This really is about quality of life in our small community," he said.

As he presented the large check to Knapp, Wells said many times it's easier to write a check.

"I want to challenge in two ways by asking all in the community to offer up money and to volunteer," Wells said.

The check was met with a burst of applause from those in the audience.

Knapp said there are no designs done for projects, or even an order for projects to be worked on.

"But at least now we have some money to hire the best people to do the projects right," Knapp said.

Following the press conference, Wells said he's proud to be able to step up and put this challenge out to the community.

"At the same time, I think the real challenge is the opportunity to continue looking for ways to not only create quality of life but the lifestyle we all enjoy in our small community," Wells said. "We're excited to take the lead in it."

Wells said as an avid biker, he appreciates the recreation trail in the community and looks forward to enhancements and additions.

Bringing more people to live and work in the community is also important, he said.

Floyd Valley Healthcare administrator Mike Donlin is one of seven people currently serving on the Le Mars Area Betterment Foundation board.

"The foundation is still in its infancy," Donlin said. "It achieved its non-profit status only a few months ago."

"Now with this piece in our puzzle, we can hit the ground at a little better pace," Donlin said. "What a great motivation a gift like this is from Wells Enterprises."

Donlin said the board expects to meet with a fund-raising consultant in a couple of days.

He expects everyone from businesses to moms with their children and piggy banks to get involved in the effort.

"We had great success with a similar approach with the Floyd Valley Hospital campaign," Donlin said. "We know what a project like this is like, and it's achievable."

Some projects on the horizon for the Community Betterment Project II list include the municipal park ponds, improvements at the shelter house, expanding the recreation trail system, the Olson Cultural Event Center and the Ply-Wood bike trail.

Knapp noted that in 2002 and 2003, Wells offered a $1.5 million challenge grant, with the community raising $2.5 million and obtaining grants for $3 million.

About $8 million was spent on those projects.

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