Small-town Projects Earn Big Cash in Grinnell Mutual’s Working Together Grant Project

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Community projects in Illinois, Nebraska, and Iowa, are a little richer after winning Grinnell Mutual's Working Together Making it Better grant contest.

We are so pleased to win this grant,” Slifka said. “A promotion like Working Together Making it Better means a lot to small, rural communities like ours.

Community projects in Illinois, Nebraska, and Iowa, are a little richer after winning Grinnell Mutual's Working Together Making it Better grant contest on Nov. 18. Facebook users who voted in the promotion had three projects jockeying for position until almost the last minute. Fewer than 60 votes separated the top two projects!

Working Together Making it Better recognizes the efforts of people across rural communities in the Midwest who are working to enhance their towns’ facilities and landmarks, help their neighbors, and educate their children. These grants are Grinnell Mutual’s way of celebrating community collaboration and supporting innovative community projects.

The top vote-getter, receiving a $2,000 grant is the 1914 Opera House Marquee Restoration, Cresco, Iowa. Mount Carmel, Illinois’ project, #refreshMTC, will receive $1,000, and earning a $500 grant is the Nebraska City Ball Field Improvement Association in Nebraska City, Nebraska.

More about the winning projects
1914 Opera House Marquee Restoration, Cresco, Iowa
1914 Opera House Marquee Restoration project is working to restore the historic marquee of the 1914 Opera House in Cresco, Iowa. More than 100 years after it opened, the Cresco Opera House still serves the community as a theater, gathering place, and a source of civic pride.

Spiff Slifka, development coordinator for Howard County Business and Tourism, said the Working Together Making it Better $2,000 grant will help put the finishing touches on the project. A sparkling new marquee is in place, but, Slifka pointed out, all the bills are not yet paid.

The new marquee is a close replica of the original, lighted marquee added in 1941. “It has the 1941 look, but it’s been updated with LED lights and current technology so it’s very energy-efficient,” Slifka said.

“We are so pleased to win this grant. A promotion like Working Together Making it Better means a lot to small, rural communities like ours.”

#refreshMTC, Mount Carmel, Illinois
The grant money from Working Together Making it Better will help #refreshMTC continue with its efforts to improve the town’s Market Street area. The project began several years ago after some area retailers purchased a bench for pedestrians using the uptown business district. Because of the great response of the community, a committee was formed to continue the efforts.

“The benches are just a small part of an overall plan to improve the business district,” Terry Beckerman, a member of the #refreshMTC committee, said. “We’ve just started.”

Beckerman said the community of Mount Carmel really pulled together to support the organization and vote for their entry.

Nebraska City Ball Field Improvement Association, Nebraska City, Nebraska
The Working Together Making it Better grant galvanized support for some rundown ball fields in Nebraska City, bringing awareness and support to this community project.

Patrick Wehling, with the Nebraska City Ball Field Improvement Association, was happy that people turned out to vote for the project. “Our Working Together Making it Better grant will go to field improvements for our five baseball and softball fields,” said Wehling “The grant will help us purchase the scoreboard and make that a reality sooner.”

Other improvements will include new dugouts, spectator benches, and fencing.

The enthusiasm for the project spurred other donors, too. “We’ve had people offer donations that had not supported us before because of the visibility that Working Together Making it Better gave us,” Wehling said.

About Grinnell Mutual
Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company, in business since 1909, provides reinsurance for farm mutual insurance companies and property and casualty insurance products through more than 1,600 independent agents in 12 Midwestern states. Grinnell Mutual is the 117th-largest property-casualty insurance company in the United States and the largest primary reinsurer of farm mutual companies in North America.

Photo captions:
(All photos are courtesy of the respective project organizations)

Cresco Theatre: A 1940s Mercury sits in front of Cresco Theatre’s refurbished marquee.

Market Street in Mount Carmel, Illinois: New benches like this one are being placed around the town’s central Market Street.

Nebraska City ball fields: Volunteers pour a concrete pad for a ball-field dugout.

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For more information, please contact:

Jennifer Miller
Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Co.
Integrated Marketing Manager
(641) 269-8322
jmiller(at)gmrc.com

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Miranda Vos
Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company
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