|Blue Earth Community Foundation
beautifies Blue Earth yet again
The Blue Earth Community Foundation has partnered with the Faribault County Soil and Water Conservation District to create a new pollinator garden for downtown Blue Earth.
At the corner of South Main and East Sixth streets, a small plot of land has been growing green grass for a few summers now. Members of the BECF noticed the plot and made plans to create a rain garden at the location due to its heavy amount of rain it collected.
But, once Blue Earth’s Main Street project was completed, the rain run off issue was resolved, giving way to an opportunity for a greater gardenscape.
Lill Robinson, pollinator park subcommittee member for BECF, says the small garden area will feature a few beautiful trees, including a maple tree, some decorative grasses, and plenty of pollinator flowers. The small space on Main Street is also going to feature a permeable paver path as well as some seating options.
Robinson says she, along with other members of the subcommittee have worked diligently with Michelle Wigern of SWCD to create a beautiful and useful landscape for the small Main Street Park.
The excavation and placement of the path will be completed by Schrader Enterprises of Wells.
The park is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2018. Robinson says the hope is to get the path completed this year, as well as tree stocks.
Flowers and trees that will be planted in the garden were actually courtesy of Blue Earth Landscape’s leftover inventory after the closing of the business, which Robin son says saves the foundation quite a bit of money.
“We may even be able to sow the seed for our low mow, no mow turf, but that will be decided by the weather,” said Robinson.
Courtesy of the Faribault County Register - November 2017
BECF Gala . . .
A night of fine dining
The Blue Earth Community Foundation Gala drew a big crowd on Saturday, April 22, at Riverside Town & Country Club. Three raffle prizes were given out, dinner was served and Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation representatives spoke. More than 100 tickets were sold for the event, which drew county-wide support and was meant as a thank-you event and fundraiser for the community.
- April 2017
Penny challenge happening now
Tim Penny will match one NEW donor's donation of $100, dollar-for-dollar to the Blue Earth Community Foundation. This is a great way to help your community and ...see it get a match up to $100.00.
New donor cannot have given to any fund under our foundations umbrella. People who have not given for three years to be non-donors and are eligible for this match. This o ffer is effective immediately and will expire on December 29, 2016.
If you are interested, please make your check out to Blue Earth Community Foundation, PO Box 390, Blue Earth, MN 56013.
The Blue Earth Community Foundation has only been in existence for three years, but has been able to accomplish quite a bit in that short time, including seed money for the Friends of the Library, commissioning the beautiful Downtown Mural, and serving as one of the non-profit partners of the recent Ag Center Parking Lot reconstruction.
- December 16, 2016
|A Giant Donation
The Blue Earth Community Foundation recently presented a $4,000 check to the Blue Earth Senior Center. The donation is earmarked toward the center's remodeling project. Pictured are representatives from the City of Blue Earth, the Senior Center and the Blue Earth Community Foundation - back row, left to right, City Administrator Tim Ibisch, Tom Juba, Chuck Frundt and Skip Schimek; front row, left to right, Marty Cassem, Lois Wiborg, Sue Cassens, Donna Sohn, Linda, Jahnke, Marily Stensland, Marty Sawyer and Lill Robinson.
- November 4, 2016
Dedication recently held for
Blue Earth's Downtown Mural,
"A Walk into the Future"
A great day was observed Oct. 15 during Blue Earth's Complete Street Fall Festival. BECF board members and the Blue Earth community celebrated the beautiful Downtown Mural Project, "A Walk into the Future" during its dedication. Several dignitaries including Tim Penny, president and CEO of Southern Minnesota Initative Foundation (SMIF) spoke to congratulate the Blue Earth Community Foundaiton on such a successful project. Steve DeLaitsch, the artist who designed/created the mural was also on hand to join in the festivities. Following the formal dedication a small reception was held at the Faribault County Register Professional Office Building.
- October 5, 2016
Holiday Community Appreciation being held Thursday, Dec. 10, 4-7 p.m.
Join us for a Holiday Community Appreciation on Thursday, Dec. 10, 5-7 p.m. at Ankeny's Coffee Shop (downtown Blue Earth). It's our way of thanking those who are intereted in contributing to the foundation and explain what our plans are for the future.
- December 2015
|Downtown Mural Project work continues
Work Day #1 for Steve DeLaitsch as he is seen giving Blue Earth Graphics a fresh coat of paint before he begins the mural design. This is a coop project of the BECF and the Kiwanis and the Prairie Lakes Regional Arts Council.
- September 29, 2015
The Downtown Mural Project has officially begun
Tom Hennis and the STS Crew are power-washing the north wall of the mural site at Blue Earth Graphics.
Tom and artist Steve DeLaitsch are seen conferring on the project.
They’re off to a fast, fabulous start —
BECF celebrates great first year with banquet, projects
The Blue Earth Community Foundation has been in existence for one year and they have a lot to celebrate. So, on Sunday night, April 26, the board of directors of the foundation held a thank you dinner for everyone who has contributed to the new organization.
“We are off to a good start,” foundation president John Huisman said. “After just one year, we have raised about $130,000 for our endowment fund. And we want to thank everyone who has contributed.” Huisman announced the foundation’s very first grant was going to the new Friends of the Blue Earth Library group. He presented a check for $3,000 to Sue Ellingsen, chairman of the Friends of the Library on Sunday night at the dinner.
Foundation board member Lill Robinson also revealed an artist drawing of another of the foundation’s first projects. “We have received a “Paint the Town” grant from the Valspar Paint Corporation to design and create a mural in downtown Blue Earth,” Robinson said. “And we have hired an artist, Steve Delaitsch of Waseca, to create the mural.” Delaitsch has created several murals in other towns such as Waseca and Owatonna, and also designs the artwork on tombstones for Blue Earth Monument. Robinson said the mural will go on the north wall of the Blue Earth Graphics building. “Steve is an amazing artist, and he has created a beautiful design for our mural,” Robinson added.
The featured speaker at the dinner was Tim Penny, president and CEO of Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF). Penny explained how SMIF works with communities in 20 southern Minnesota counties, specifically in the three areas of early childhood education, economic development and community investment/ community funds.
“We have partnered with 23 community funds, such as the Blue Earth Community Foundation,” Penny explained. “We invest the funds, along with our own, at no fee to the communities.” Because the $2.5 to $3 million in community funds are added to the $30 million SMIF has in its endowment fund, foundations like the one in Blue Earth see a very good return on their dollars, Penny said.
Over the past years, SMIF has made some significant investments in Faribault County, to the tune of $1.1 million. They have made 15 loans in the county, totaling $809,000 as well as 69 grants of $341,742.
Schools, libraries and child care organizations have been the major recipients of the financial assistance, as well as seven businesses in the county, including Simplified Ag Technology in Blue Earth and the Kee Kafe and Kiester Market, all in 2014.
Penny, a former U.S. Congressman, is a graduate of Kiester High School. The SMIF president praised the leaders of the new Blue Earth Community Foundation and said out of the seven keys to success for small towns, one of them is forming a community foundation.
“Another one is local leadership, people willing to step forward and give of their time, talent and money,” Penny said. “And you have that here. I am sure you will meet your goals, and we are here to help you do it.”
- Courtesy of the Faribault County Register, May 4, 2015
Improving the community —
Blue Earth Community Foundation wants to make things happen
What started years ago as the seed of an idea by a former mayor of Blue Earth has now blossomed into full reality.
And, it will soon be ready to bear fruit in the form of funding special projects in the city of Blue Earth.
The newly formed Blue Earth Community Foundation is off and running.
“Our vision is to better our community by connecting people who care with causes that matter,” says the new foundation’s president, John Huisman. “This is a way to give people meaningful gift-giving opportunities.”
Huisman says just the way the Blue Earth Area Schools Foundation has raised thousands of dollars to fund items at the BEA schools, so will the community foundation work to fund special projects in the city of Blue Earth.
“We have partnered with the Southern Minnesota Initiative Fund (SMIF) for our foundation,” Huisman says. “There are several benefits to doing this.”
Those include having SMIF handle all the financial arrangements and they will train the new Blue Earth Community Foundation Board members.
“They also will be giving us $2,000 seed money and another $5,000 matching grant once we raise $10,000 ourselves,” Huisman says. “I think we will be able to do that rather quickly.”
In fact, the group will be holding a fundraising activity at the Ag Center in Blue Earth on June 14. SMIF president and CEO Tim Penny will be the guest speaker at the event.
SMIF is partners with 23 other communities in Southern Minnesota, helping them form community foundations. At the June 14 event, Penny will explain just how the foundation will work.
“We just signed the documents with SMIF on April 8,” Huisman says. “We also just received our 501-3c tax status from the IRS. So we are now in full operation.”
The idea to form a community foundation in Blue Earth was first expressed years ago by former mayor Rob Hammond.
“During my tenure as mayor we had two very generous donations to the city,” Hammond recalls. “The money went to the city for a new park (Steinberg) and also to the new pool fund (Bell).”
But, Hammond says when donations are made to the city, issues can arise.
“And people can be nervous about donations to the city itself, because they fear the money could go towards operating expenses,” Hammond says. “It is a lot easier and better if there can be a community fund – not connected to the city government.”
Hammond worked with then city administrator Ben Martig and then chamber executive Shelly Greimann on trying to form a community foundation, but says “we stumbled along and failed to get the ball rolling.”
In the year before he quit being mayor, Hammond says he made one more big push for the idea, and this time it took hold.
In fact, at the farewell “roast” of Mayor Hammond held in December of 2012, he insisted it be turned into the initial fundraiser for the as yet to be formed foundation.
“I have seen the success of other communities with their foundations, cities like Fairmont,” Hammond says. “It can be of tremendous benefit to the town to raise funds to help the community. It is a way to look towards the future, and not just react to what is happening now.” Foundation president Huisman agrees.
“We modeled our foundation after the one in Spring Valley,” he says. “They have really done a terrific job there. We had a person from there come to one of our organizational meetings.”
Huisman adds that it really was a ‘no-brainer’ to partner with SMIF due to that organization’s expertise.
“They will form two funds for us,” Huisman explains. “One is an endowment fund which we will try to continue to grow. The other is a general fund for specific projects.”
Huisman says the gifts made to the city from Vera Steinberg and all the people who donated to the pool project are good examples of why the community foundation is needed.
“Some people are uncomfortable making a gift to a city, but want to give it to the community itself,” he says. “And some people want to remain anonymous with their gifts – hard to do with city government.”
He hopes people will want to give to the foundation either for the endowment fund or for the general fund.
“They can also designate the gift for a specific project, if they so desire,” he says. Hammond agrees, saying the benefits of a foundation include its flexibility.
“This is a way we can reach out to those who love this community, whether they live here or not. Maybe they would love to have stayed here but change came and they had to leave. But, they still want to see it thrive and be better and continue to improve.”
Huisman says the foundation is a perfect place for someone to leave a gift in their will or estate planning.
The new foundation has a 12 member board of directors.
Besides Huisman, Hammond is the vice president. Tom Juba is the treasurer and David Frundt is the secretary. Board members are Lill Robinson, Neil Eckles, Jack Heinitz, Deb McDonald, Chuck Frundt, Marty Sawyer, Skip Schimek and Lori Nauman.
“The board members will make the decisions about the foundation,” Huisman says. “These will all be local decisions on what things to fund. But, anyone making a donation will be able to specify where the money should go – much like Vera Steinberg with starting the nature park.”
Huisman says the hope is to raise the $10,000 in donations at the fundraiser on June 14.
“That will kick in the $5,000 gift from SMIF,” he says. “And that will certainly get us off and running.”
- Courtesy of the Faribault County Register Community Focus Magazine, April 2014
Valspar Award Grant AwardedThe Blue Earth Community Foundation and the Blue Earth Kiwanis Club recently were awarded a "Paint the Town/Art Walk" grant from the Valspar Coporation. A donation of 70 gallons of paint will be proatvided by Valspar to the two organizations who will choose an appropriate business wall to cree a large, colorful mural depicting the community. This will be one of the initial projects BECF will be working on, kicking off downtown beautification efforts.
John Huisman, BECF chairman, recently accepted the Valspar award at a Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) training session/luncheon held in Owatonna.