In its first 2 years, Clinton County LEGACY Fund distributes $953,384

By Gary Huffenberger - [email protected]

WILMINGTON — With a second annual funding cycle completed, the LEGACY Fund Grant Committee and Clinton County commissioners met Wednesday and sized up how the first two years of the LEGACY Fund went.

The five people on the LEGACY Fund Grant Committee select which applicants receive grants from money obtained through selling county-owned Clinton Memorial Hospital.

In the first grant cycle in 2020, there were nine recipients receiving a total of $353,400. This year, there were 19 recipients, receiving nearly $600,000 altogether ($599,984).

So, over the first two years, close to $1 million in grants were distributed — $953,384.

Clinton County Commissioners President Mike McCarty asked members of the grant committee Wednesday whether there’s anything they would change after two years of going through the new undertaking.

Grant committee member Joe Hete replied he thinks the process has worked pretty well.

“The biggest thing I see is it doesn’t seem there are very many large projects [for which the grant funds are sought],” said Hete.

“… you would think somewhere out there there would be somebody putting together a plan for some much larger expenditure than what we’ve seen to date,” Hete added.

Grant committee member Michelle Morrison said she was surprised the committee didn’t receive more letters of interest, the first stage of the grant process. The first year 32 letters of interest were submitted; this year there were 31 letters.

Morrison can foresee it becoming a very competitive grant someday, she said.

Clinton County LEGACY Fund Committee Chairman Tony Long turned the tables on the commissioners and asked them what they thought about the first couple years.

Commissioner Brenda K. Woods said, “I think it’s running very well so far, and I’ve been pleased with the outcome, and look forward to many more years [of grant awards].”

Commissioner Kerry R. Steed said the LEGACY Fund grants mark a break with the past. He explained that “now we’re able to give away hundreds of thousands of dollars every year to nonprofits and governmental agencies and first responders.”

He anticipates that eventually the LEGACY Fund process will get past funding things that are needed, and move on to funding things that are wanted.

“There’s going to come a time when there’s going to be a ‘big ask’ that has true impact within our community, and the LEGACY Fund I think is going to be the organization that is the receiver of that request and then [will be] a partial funder of that request,” said Steed, who was a grant committee member this year.

McCarty, for his part, said he appreciates that the grant committee these first two years has looked out for the county as a whole rather than to special interests or just certain parts of the county.

He noted that a LEGACY Fund grant can, some of the time, be used as seed money to assist in obtaining a bigger subsequent grant from another source.

The breakdown of the grant funds awarded this year shows the total amount of grants for local governmental units at $576,986. The total amount of grant dollars for local nonprofits and charities this year came in at $22,998.

Of the gap, Hete said the grant committee “didn’t get that many requests from nonprofits.” In the first year, nonprofits received $128,000 in grant funds.

Long is resigning from the grant committee in order to have more family time. His resignation was accepted with regret by commissioners, who will appoint a replacement.

The term LEGACY in Clinton County LEGACY Fund can be taken as an acronym that stands for Local Endowment for Governments And Charities for Years.

Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.

By Gary Huffenberger

[email protected]