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Solon foundation seeking feedback for new project

By Doug Lindner
Solon Economist

SOLON– Solon could use this.
What is it?
That’s what the Solon Area Community Foundation would like to know.
The foundation wants Solon residents to provide some ideas for community improvement it can make happen.
Within reason.
“We can’t undertake a swimming pool, it has to be smaller,” foundation president Larry Meister explained. “Bigger than a breadbox, smaller than a pool.”
The Solon Area Community Foundation (SACF), besides offering scholarships to Solon students, helps finance modest community projects every year by spending the interest earned on its investments.
This year, the foundation was expecting to help pay for bicycle racks and Christmas decorations for the downtown district renovated by the city last year.
But at its last quarterly meeting, Meister said, it was reported the city had found a grant for the bike racks and weren’t ready to do more with decorations.
“That’s what we were going to spend our money on,” he lamented.
With most of 2013 in the rear view mirror, and 2014 right around the corner, Meister estimated the foundation could have in excess of $10,000 to spend and no projects to pursue.
For over three decades, the SACF has worked to help fund a number of improvements, small and large for Solon.
The foundation was established in 1981 with a mission to conceive and develop a wide variety of youth and community projects to benefit the Solon area.
The initial project of the foundation was the Solon municipal sign and flagpole located in City Park at the intersection of Highway 1 and Main Street. A time capsule was made a part of the municipal sign, and numerous local organizations were encouraged to place memorabilia in the capsule. The sign was constructed in 1984 and dedicated in 1985.
Another project of the foundation has been the Solon-Lake Macbride Recreational Trail. The trail is a 5-mile trek from Solon to the entrance of Lake Macbride State Park, open to hikers, bicyclists, cross-country skiers and snowmobilers. The project took almost five years of work by the SACF and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, with a significant share of the money for the trail coming from the foundation. The trail was completed and dedicated in 1989.
Additionally, the foundation contributed $25,000 to the construction of the Solon Public Library in 1998 and donated an identical amount to Spartan Stadium for a sound system in 2011.
The foundation was also the leading contributor for a project to construct entry signs for Solon on Highway 1 north and south of town.
“We would like to keep doing these types of things,” Meister explained. “We don’t know what everyone is planning, but we want projects that help put our name in front of people.”
Meister is a charter member of the organization, while Shelley Kuennen has served 28 years.
“During that time, I’ve enjoyed assisting with many various projects we have either created or helped to fund for the town of Solon and the surrounding area,” Kuennen noted.
“We would love some ideas from our community patrons as to what the next project will be,” she said. “This is your chance to get involved and still have some energy left at the end of the day. All we’re asking is for just a little of your brain power.”
Meister said the SACF is looking for suggestions or formal proposals which could be discussed by the foundation’s board members at their February meeting.
To voice an opinion, call Meister at 319-624-2516, Treasurer Don Ellis at 319-624-5104, or Shelley Kuennen at 319-430-7648. By email, Meister can be reached at ldklikmeister@aol.com and Ellis at dellis@solonstatebank.com. The foundation can also be reached by mail at Solon Area Community Foundation, P.O. Box 129, Solon, IA 52333.