Grants awarded to rural communities
One of the founding principles that cooperatives abide by is commitment to community. Co-ops are often actively engaged in the communities they serve, be it through volunteering or financial donations. Cass County Electric Cooperative takes pride in our efforts to serve our communities with electricity and in many other ways that go beyond the job. Cooperatives also focus on partnering with other cooperatives. As such, 16 electric co-ops and nine telecom co-ops in North Dakota serve as member-owners of the Rural Development Finance Corporation (RDFC), an entity dedicated to helping rural communities thrive.
As a member of RDFC, Cass County Electric Cooperative has the opportunity to help find worthy causes for a yearly $2,000 grant allocation within our service territory. It is with this opportunity that the passion of the cooperative and its employees for small North Dakota communities truly shines.
The larger grant is split into smaller awards. Employees are then asked to nominate potential recipients – organizations they know of or are involved with – to apply for the grants. This year, four great organizations each received $500 grants that will go toward keeping our rural communities strong and vibrant.
City of Kathryn
One grant was awarded to the City of Kathryn. Kathryn, population 53, has been operating with a spring water system and will be converting the entire city to rural water. The city intends to install rural water into the newly renovated Kathryn Community Center.
Bobby Koepplin, manager of rural development at CCEC, helped connect the city of Kathryn with this grant opportunity. Koepplin has been a champion of rural communities in CCEC’s service territory for the duration of his career with the cooperative. This RDFC grant marked a total of more than $146,000 that Koepplin has helped raise over the last several years for the Kathryn Community Center’s renovation, for which he also served as project coordinator.
North Country Trail Association
Another grant went to the Sheyenne River Valley Chapter of the North Country Trail Association. The funds will be used to purchase a triangular display frame with brochure racks and panel inserts, to be installed at the new visitor center at Fort Ransom State Park. The panel insert will include a map of the North Country Trail through North Dakota, highlighting the Fort Ransom area, as well as a national map. The display will also include basic information about what the trail has to offer.
Bobby Koepplin also aligned the Sheyenne River Valley Chapter of the North Country Trail Association with this grant opportunity. Koepplin, an avid hiker, has served on the board of the Sheyenne River Valley Chapter for 16 years and currently serves as president.
Harwood Area Fire & Rescue
Harwood Area Fire & Rescue is an all-volunteer department organized in 1983 and is comprised of a
roster of 19 active members. These local residents are on-call 24 hours a day, ready to assist. All of their time is donated without compensation, and all fire protection funds go toward improving fire and rescue protection. Harwood Area Fire & Rescue received one of the $500 grants, which will go toward the purchase of air bags that are used during vehicle extrication emergencies.
Bob Miller, business accounts executive at CCEC, connected Harwood Area Fire & Rescue with this grant
Enderlin Park Association
The Enderlin Park Association was awarded a grant for the purchase of a 15-foot four-row bleacher, two picnic tables, and a flag pole for Gillund Field. These items will be used at the baseball/softball field in order to make it more user friendly.
Enderlin resident and city council member Kevin Bunn, manager of purchasing & facilities at CCEC, directed the Enderlin Park Association toward the grant opportunity. Bunn has served on the city council since 2007 and says he is always keeping an eye out for opportunities to help organizations in his community.
“The Enderlin Park Association is extremely active in making improvements,” Bunn says. “But as in all small towns, funds can be tight and can limit what can be accomplished. When CCEC announced this opportunity, I knew the park board would have something going on and contacted them to see if it would be a fit.”