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2012 Black River Falls Area Foundation Grants

The 2012 grants totaling $90,754 and scholarships totaling $38,500 were announced at the Black River Falls Area Foundation (Foundation)’s special 25th Anniversary Celebration on June 20 at the Skyline Clubhouse in Black River Falls. Nearly 90 people attended including grant recipients, special “Friends of the Foundation” who each year contribute $100 or more to increase the available funds for grants, Foundation scholarship donors and recipients, and other donors.


Foundation Trustees Jean Lee, Kay Finch and Secretary Sue Michaelson, with Administrative Assistant Julie Murray, organized the celebration. In keeping with the 25th Anniversary theme, the tables were decorated with silver balloons with white flower centerpieces. A special three-cake arrangement with white roses was displayed on silver stands and served with a light meal following the program.


Other Foundation Trustees are Chairman Gil Homstad, Vice Chairman Dave Hoffman, Treasurer Mike Dougherty, Eric Chrisinger, Ron Danielson, Tom Lister, Mike Mahan, MD, and Dave Millis. Annual Reports with the theme “25th Anniversary – 1986 to 2011” were distributed and are available at the Jackson County Bank, by contacting the Foundation at 284-3113, or by going to their website at  The report highlights the many accomplishments during the Foundation’s 25 years.


Sue Michaelson gave the welcome by introducing the trustees and thanking the Friends of the Foundation for their “generous annual donations that each year help increase the dollar amount awarded for grants and special projects.” She stated that so far this year, Friends have donated $15,050, which will be used to fund next year’s grants. She also thanked the donors who have established scholarships through the Foundation. “Because of your generosity, we awarded $38,500 in scholarships this year,” she said.


Michaelson introduced Julie Murray, the new administrative assistant, and said, “We are most appreciative for her help in gathering information for this event. She has done a truly superb job of learning the many tasks involved and making improvements.” She also extended thanks to Mary O’Brien for continuing to provide assistance with the Annual Report, other printed materials, press releases, photography and “has given our committee and the Foundation a seamless continuity.”


Gil Homstad then spoke and said the Foundation was originated in 1986 by the Black River Falls Rotary Club. “A committee of nine Rotarians met biweekly for almost a year to plan the purpose of the Foundation and to conduct a fundraising campaign,” he said. He then highlighted some of the major accomplishments of the Foundation including being instrumental in starting Jackson County Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers through a $15,000 donation from a man in California.


Homstad noted that initially the Foundation excluded funding for scholarships. “The rationale was that funds should benefit groups of people, not individuals,” he said. “But the need for scholarships changed that policy, and the first scholarship, which was $1,000, was awarded in 1989 from a fund established by the local Lions and Rotary Clubs.” He then said that fund ran out of money this year, “but the Lions and Rotary Clubs recently donated $5,000 each to the Foundation to keep that scholarship going for many years to come.”


Another highlight he shared was that the money to build the present library was all raised by the Foundation. “The Library Board approached the Foundation saying the old library was not adequate, but the City could not afford to build a new one, and asked if the Foundation would raise the funds. “The Foundation agreed and raised $1,300,000,” said Homstad, “and it was built with no City debt. The Hoffman Family donated $500,000 in memory of Duane Hoffman and Mary Van Gorden donated funds to build and help staff the History Room in memory of her parents J. Bruce and Kathleen (Buckley) Van Gorden.”


One other accomplishment Homstad shared was about the Lunda Community Park and Hoffman Aquatic Center. He said the Foundation decided their next major project would be a Community Park and during that time, the City, with help from the Lunda Charitable Trust, was looking at a major project to repair the former swimming pool located where the Chamber of Commerce is now. “When the City found that it would cost $900,000 just to repair the pool, and with aquatic centers replacing older pools in popularity, and noting heavy traffic on Water Street making the location dangerous, the idea developed to make one large project on land the Foundation had an option to acquire,” said Homstad. “A committee of the City, the Lunda Charitable Trust and the Foundation was formed and the result is the Lunda Community Park and Hoffman Aquatic Center we have today.”


Homstad then talked about major accomplishments in 2011 including assisting the Soccer Group’s project to construct new soccer fields, which would serve 300 youth. The Foundation purchased the land for $70,000 and donated it to the City for the soccer fields,” he said. “It also pledged $25,000 for construction of those fields.” Also in 2011, the Foundation received the proceeds from the sale of the Incubator Building in the Industrial Park. “This will amount to $250,000 when all payments are received,” he said, “and we thank the Incubator Directors for this donation.”


Personnel changes in 2011 included the resignation of Administrative Assistant Beth Overlien and the hiring of Julie Murray for that position. Homstad thanked Overlien for her service the past four years and welcomed Murray. Also, Fred Stai completed his nine years of service as a Foundation Trustee and Mike Mahan, MD was elected to succeed him on the Foundation Board. Homstad said Stai was involved in establishing the Field of Honor Maintenance Fund, the Skyline Golf Course Fund and helped in the construction of the Foundation Trail Park. “We thank Fred for his many contributions and welcome Mike to the Board,” said Homstad.


Homstad summarized 25 years of Foundation activities with the following numbers: In 1987, grants awarded totaled $2,900 and in 2011, grants, scholarships and community projects totaled $139,330. In 1987, Foundation assets totaled $110,000 and in 2011, assets totaled $3,400,000. Over 25 years, the Foundation has made awards totaling $4,400,000 and originated or co-originated over $10,000,000 of Community Projects.


Trustee Kay Finch then announced the following recipients of the Foundation’s 2012 scholarships:

Alumni Association Scholarship ($1,000) - Stephanie Kinyon, Black River Falls

Mary Perry Fine Arts Scholarship ($1,000) - Savannah Markee, Black River Falls

Thomas Robert Gilles Memorial Scholarship ($1,000) - Emma Erlandson, Black River Falls

Don Halverson Memorial Scholarship ($1,500) - Emma Erlandson, Black River Falls

David & Marilyn Hoffman Scholarship ($2,000 to each) - Kendra Gates, Jordan Nortman, William Peasley, and Olivia Lee, all of Black River Falls

Duane & Lavina Hoffman Academic Scholarship ($1,500) - Erica Olson, Black River Falls

Duane & Lavina Hoffman Scholarship ($1,000 first year; $500 second year) - Alexandra Turner. Black River Falls

Betsy Danielson Janssen Nursing Scholarship ($1,000) - Lindsey Breheim, Hixton

Anna & James Klir, Jr. Memorial Scholarship ($1,000) - Stephanie Kinyon. Black River Falls

Leland & Jeanette Larson Scholarship ($2,000) - Melinda Feaster, Taylor

Lions & Rotary Scholarship ($1,000) - Samantha Bahr, Hixton

Ralph & Alice Lund Memorial Scholarship ($750) - Tim Nortman, Black River Falls

Kelly Mauck Memorial Scholarship ($1,500) - Savannah Markee, Black River Falls

Philip & Aldena Meyer Memorial Scholarship ($1,000) - Tyler Bue, Black River Falls

Meghan Powell Scholarship ($3,000 to each) - Jordan Ollhoff and Lexie Bowen, both of Alma Center, Sam Farnsworth and Laura Wright, both of Merrillan

Lt. Terry Preston Memorial Scholarship ($1,000) - Courtney Slosser, Black River Falls

Gene & Judy Ransom Scholarship ($1,000) - Phoebe Pierson, Alma Center


Trustee Jean Lee then announced the following 2012 grant recipients:

Alma Center First Responders to purchase medical kits equipped with medical supplies and oxygen tanks. Funded by the Stanley Held Fund.

Bolton Refuge House to help with winter utility costs. Funded by the Gil and Alice Homstad Fund.

Boys & Girls Club of Jackson County to finish the teen room with carpet. Funded by the Peter and Jone Hoffman Fund.

Boys & Girls Club of Jackson County for general operations. Funded by the Peter and Jone Hoffman Fund.

BR Area Chamber of Commerce to purchase a Seiko S149 Stopwatch/Printer to be used for the annual Karner Blue 5K-10K-Half Marathon.

BR Area Child Care Services to replace a refrigerator.

BRF Figure Skating Club to update jumping equipment used by higher level skaters.

BRF Fire Department to purchase training equipment and supplies for a session on confined space. Funded by the Dean Nortman Memorial Scholarship Fund.

BRF Public Library for general operations. Funded by the Mary Van Gorden Endowment Fund.

BRF Rotary Club Skatepark for general maintenance. Funded by the Rotary Skatepark Fund.

BRF School District – High School – Channel 97 News to purchase equipment used for filming the Channel 97 news.

BRF School District – High School to purchase Mathematical Software. Funded in part by the Finch Family Fund.

BRF School District – Special Education Forrest Street, Early Childhood Program to purchase an iPad and case to enhance communication, teach genitive and academic skills. Funded by the Developmentally Disabled Fund.

BRF School District – Gebhardt Elementary School – Special Education to purchase “Dragon Naturally Speaking” software. Funded by the M.C. Schmallenberg Memorial Fund.

BRF School District – Middle School to purchase equipment for the Archery Program. Funded by the BRF Educational Enrichment Fund.

BRF School District – Third Street School to purchase four iPads and accessories. Funded by the BRF Educational Enrichment Fund.

BRF School District – High School to purchase two digital video cameras and accessories. Funded by the BRF Educational Enrichment Fund.

BRF United Methodist Church for general operations. Funded by the Peter and Jone Hoffman Fund.

Friends of the Black River toward the purchase of a snowmobile to be owned by the City for grooming Skyline ski trails. Funded in part by the Gil and Alice Homstad Fund.

Friends Sharing Food for equipment purchases. Funded by the Jackson County Bank Fund.

Gateway Council: Boy Scouts for general operations. Funded by the Peter and Jone Hoffman Fund.

Hazelton Foundation for general operations. Funded by the Peter and Jone Hoffman Fund.

Jackson County Area Schools for materials to enhance the enjoyment of reading by elementary school students at the ACHM, BRF, Mel-Min and Blair-Taylor elementary schools. Funded by the Grace Webb Memorial Library Fund.

Jackson County Fair Park toward the renovation pledge (Fifth installment of a $120,000 pledge).

Jackson County 4H Summer of Science Program for a series of activities that encourage youth interest in science, technology engineering and math. Funded by the Black River Area Youth Fund.

Jackson County Historical Society for exterior painting at the Gallery Museum. Funded by the Erwin and Thelma Homstad Fund.

Jackson County Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers to create additional public awareness about Interfaith.

Jackson County Little League toward new lights at Marks Field. Funded in part by the Gil and Alice Homstad Fund.

Jackson County Soccer League toward the Multi-Field Soccer Complex (second installment of a $25,000 pledge).

Jackson County Transition Advisory Council – Blair Taylor High School to support an educational event to help students with disabilities transition from high school to the community.

Jackson County Treatment Court to purchase a virtual welding station for the Welding Skills Training Institute. Funded by the Jackson County Incubator Fund.

Learn and Play Day Care and Preschool to purchase items needed in classrooms. Funded by the Dougherty Family Fund.

Melrose-Mindoro Area Schools Library to purchase a Smart Board for the Library.

Melrose-Mindoro Area Schools - Middle School Music to purchase guitar capos for 20 sixth-grade guitar students.

Miss Black River Falls for float repairs and updates.

Partners of Black River Memorial Hospital for supplies for the Partners Red Cross Blood Drives.

Skyline Golf Course to purchase a new Top Dresser for the Greens. Funded by the Carroll Zillmer Memorial Fund.

Together for Jackson County Kids for expenses involved with the Strengthening Families Program for youth ages 3-10 and their families. Funded in part by the Black River Area Youth Fund.





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