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Kane uses riverboat cash to fund array of civic, charitable projects

GENEVA – More than 40 local nonprofit and charitable organizations could receive  money in coming months to help with a variety of projects, as Kane County’s government prepares to dole out more than $1 million in grants from the money it collects from Elgin’s riverboat casino.

The Kane County Board’s Riverboat Committee recommended on Tuesday the County Board approve $1.18 million in grants to agencies operating in the county.

The grants, ranging from $5,000 to $98,000, would help fund such efforts as improving food pantries, creating plans to improve the Fox River riverfront and improve the river’s water quality, repair and maintain homeless shelters, provide for after-school programs, make some communities more inviting for tourists and provide services for those with disabilities, among others.

Within the Tri-Cities, the committee recommended awarding money to a range of projects, including:

• $50,000 to the Geneva Chamber of Commerce to develop a visitors center;

• $15,000 to the Geneva History Center to repair and improve their building;

• $50,000 to the Batavia Parks Foundation to renovate a portion of the Batavia Riverwalk;

• $6,000 to Water Street Studios in Batavia to create a metal work studio and design lab;

• $65,000 to the city of St. Charles for a “green infrastructure project along the Fox River;”

• $50,000 to the Northern Illinois Food Bank in St. Charles to expand its food salvage, waste and recycling area;

• $25,000 to the Living Well Cancer Resource Center in Geneva for a facility expansion and technology upgrades; and

• $45,000 to the Salvation Army for the purchase of temperature-controlled vehicles to transport food.

Other grants will be distributed to other organizations throughout the county, according to the allocation schedule sent with a positive recommendation Tuesday.

The matter will advance next to the County Board’s Executive Committee today. From there, the matter could advance to the full County Board next week.

The money to be awarded comes from funds the county collects from the Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin under the terms of a longstanding agreement between the county and the casino. The money is to be spent on “education, environment and economic development,” according to the agreement.

This year, the county collected $4.4 million, down from a high of around $12 million in the early years of the last decade.

The Riverboat Committee already has dedicated $3.57 million of this year’s collections to various programs run by the county government.

The committee and Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen have backed a plan to use money from some of the $10 million leftover from previous years’ riverboat collections to hold support for external grant recipients around $1 million.

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