Kemper Foundation donates to fairgrounds
Representatives of the Commerce Bank, Leavenworth, presented a $25,000 check Friday to members of the Leavenworth County Fair Board.
Bill Petrie, president of Commerce Bank, said the grant from the William T. Kemper FoundationCommerce Bank, Trustee, was earmarked for the Leavenworth County 4-H Foundation. The funds will help rebuild the fairgrounds, severely hit by the May 11 tornado.
"After the tornado, it looked like the insurance proceeds weren't going to cover the expenses to rebuild the fairgrounds like it should be," Petrie said. "The need was there for help."
Joel Wood, treasurer of the Leavenworth County 4-H Foundation, was pleased with the gift.
"It's going to mean a lot to all the young people who participate in the fair," Wood said.
Michael Fields, executive director of the William T. Kemper Foundation, said Petrie had approached the foundation and explained the importance of the fairgrounds to the community, to the 4-H groups and to the young people who are involved in 4-H programs.
"We thought this would be a good project for us to support the community," Fields said.
The William T. Kemper Foundation, with assets of approximately $300 million, awarded $11 million in grants during the last fiscal year. This is a private family foundation established in 1989 when William T. Kemper Jr. died and wanted to leave his money to charity.
"We fund programs in the arts, education, health, human service and civic improvements," Fields said.
Fields said he understood that others in the community were stepping forward to ready the fairgrounds for this year's county fair.
David Todd, president of the fair board, agreed.
Among those who have helped were the board members who have re-roofed the restrooms and are in the process of building new pressboxes. Further, he said he thinks that Williams Natural Gas Co., whose employees repaired bleachers last year, will now repair bleachers damaged by the tornado.
Many others have also volunteered their time and labor, Todd said.
But more help is needed.
"There are tons of little things that will have to happen between now and the time of the fair," Todd said. "But we'll get it pulled together we always do."
Community members will have a chance to help from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. July 16 when the fair board will hold a cleanup day. Volunteers will be rewarded with a watermelon feed. Todd suggests that everyone wear sturdy shoes and leather work gloves.