By Bob Balgemann

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The receipt of a $20,000 grant for playground equipment and extension of a five-year agreement for ambulance service brought discussion among aldermen during a recent committee of the whole meeting.

The General Mills Foundation Hometown Grant making Program once again has invested some grant money in the city where one of its plants is located. And that brought positive comments from Mayor Mike Chamberlain.

First he pointed to the area where the playground equipment will be going.

The city-owned vacant property at Christi Lane and High Line Street is in one of three impoverished areas in town. City council invested some taxpayer dollars by purchasing the land, clearing it and planting grass.

For the past three years, City Clerk Shauna Arco said the city has been part of a summer lunch program, one of several around the county that benefit the many children who are out of school and no longer receive those regular meals.

She said the playground equipment would greatly enhance that program. “Fire and police help” through their summer activities, she said. “We combine our efforts.”

“We’re a 31 1/2-percent minority community,” Mayor Mike said. “So, where do you start? You start with the children.”

Through the aforementioned efforts, he said the city had lessened the number of gangs. “We have been helped by these Monday inspections by the fire department of multi-family housing units,” he added. “We found a lot of depressing things that we’ve been able to correct, like bad wiring and a laundry list of other things.”

The grant from General Mills, he said, was “an investment in the community, a thank you from them for the things we have done in this direction.”

Former alderman Andy Racz for quite a while has been trying to get city council to put in a park at Christi and High Line.

He wasn’t at the April 23 committee meeting but in a telephone interview called the grant from General Mills “a real positive for our community. It’s something city council and General Mills can be proud of.”

The aforementioned programs and now the addition of playground equipment together is “recognizing a need and meeting it,” he said. “We live in such a good place. People need to know…

For complete article, pick up the May 16 BDR.

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