BY ALICIA MILLER – SUN NEWSPAPERS
Some students in the cities of Osseo and Maple Grove will be benefiting from grants the Osseo School District 279 received from the 2013 Hennepin Youth Sports Program. This year the Hennepin County Board awarded $2.1 million in grants to 14 facilities and 22 small equipment/asset projects.
The first grant the District received was for $250,000. This grant money will be used to purchase and place lights on the Osseo Senior High School baseball and softball fields.
According to Osseo School District Community Relations Director Barb Olson, “Lighting will be installed at the baseball and softball fields (where it has not existed in the past), providing more flexibility and opportunity for students and community members to use the fields. The grant will also allow for a new scoreboard (location to be determined). As additional dollars are secured through fundraising over the next two to three years, two other scoreboards may be phased in.”
The district received also support from the Osseo City Council. Osseo City Administrator Douglas Reeder stated, “It’s pretty exciting that Osseo and the School District did receive $250,000.”
Shaune Younkers, an Osseo resident who was a key advocate and brought various parties together to earn the $250,000 Osseo Senior High grant said, “By working together, we created a proposal that is a win-win for young athletes, community businesses and members of the surrounding community.”
Younkers said there were over $4 million in applications submitted for the grants, but just over $2 million in grants were approved. She added many of the organizations with application requests have come before the Hennepin County Board more than once.
“So for us, for our very first time [request], it was really quite incredible,” Younkers added.
In a letter to the city of Osseo, Commissioner Mike Opat said, “We had many worthy applications for this round’s funds, but the lights at Osseo Senior High School were particularly worthy of County investment. In partnership with Osseo Area Schools, the lights will provide a great amenity for residents throughout Osseo, Hennepin County and the greater region by increasing the number of games and tournaments that can be played at the school.”
Younkers said work would begin on the lights in January in Iowa, with the footings being dug at the field in February. If everything goes according to plan, the lights would be ready for use in April.
Osseo Mayor Al Lindquist told Younkers, “Without you, it never would have happened.”
The second was part of the small equipment/asset grant group. The District received $10,000, which will be used for a new score board and pool timing equipment at the swimming pool at Maple Grove Junior High School.
The Maple Grove Senior High School swim and dive teams compete at this pool.
“The new system will replace an aging one that is unreliable, inaccurate, and does not display diving or team score results,” Olson said. “The updated timing equipment and scoreboard will provide reliable information during competitions and will make the facility a more desirable venue for competitive swim meets.”
Olson added, “The Hennepin County Youth Sports Program grants are a powerful example of how community members, schools, and governments are working together to leverage dollars to benefit local communities.”
Since 2009, more than $11 million in Youth Sports grants has been distributed to 69 facility projects and 60 small equipment/asset projects.