At a press conference held Tuesday afternoon in Minot's Riverside Park, the executive director of St. Joseph's Community Health Foundation, Shelly Weppler, announced a grant to the Minot Parks District to replace the playground equipment lost in a suspicous fire over the weekend.
"This area needs peace of mind," said Weppler explaining the reasons for the grant. Damages to the park amount to more than $20,000, which will be fully covered by the foundation, she said. She added that the foundation would like for the new equipment to be installed right away.
"Any help is greatly appreciated and we thank you," said park director Ron Merritt. He expressed concerns that the new equipment may not be the same model as the damaged set due to probable model changes, since the set had been installed years ago.
Flint McColgan/MDN • Foundation board members met Tuesday with Minot Parks District Director Ron Merritt, fourth from left, to announce a grant.
When asked if the foundation will seek reimbursement from the culprits should any be caught, Weppler said that is a concern for the Minot Parks District. "We don't give money with strings attached," said Foundation Grant Committee chairwoman Diane Nelson, of Kenmare.
The Foundation has been donating money to many community projects in the north central region of the state since 1998 and has roots dating back to 1914 when the Sisters of St. Francis arrived in Minot. Nelson said that the foundation looked into more than 50 applications just today.
Nelson said that this playground project was important to the Foundation's mission of promoting community "health and wellness," and added that an application involving parks in general receives great consideration. "It's very tough for our committee" to choose projects, Weppler said. In the end, says foundation member Dr. Teri Hurley, "we look to our hearts."