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PACF looks to the future

Fri, Mar 29th, 2013
Posted in Preston Features

Matt Gehling conducted the live auction at the PACF event. Photo by Jason Sethre

By Jason Sethre

On the eve of Monday, March 25, 2013, the Branding Iron in Preston, Minn., hosted the seventh annual Preston Area Community Foundation (PACF) fundraising dinner and celebration.

With more than 160 in attendance, following an invocation from Pastor Michael Smith, F & M Community Bank President Chuck Aug welcomed the crowd.

Aug introduced past grant recipient representatives from the National Trout Center and Fillmore Central Schools.

George Spangler, co-chair of the National Trout Center board of directors, thanked the PACF for the funding and support, as he introduced the recently hired National Trout Center Director Heath Serschen. Spangler further explained the significance of the tourism industry revolving around trout fishing in the United States, and how that could benefit our region with the increased exposure of the National Trout Center. He also referenced a recent presentation before the Minnesota State Legislature to garner more financial support for the expanded vision of the National Trout Center.

Chris Mensink, the Dean of Students and Athletic Director for Fillmore Central Schools explained how the collaboration of the PACF, F & M Community Bank, and Fillmore Central alumni Scott Hanson, helped the Fillmore Central baseball and softball teams receive a total of eight bats that would have cost the school between $1,600 and $2,000 -- more than what the school’s budget could afford. Mensink thanked the PACF and all those involved in making that funding possible. And, he especially thanked Miken Sports out of Caledonia for their generosity.

Lastly, Mensink indicated that there was a competition between the Preston Area Community Foundation and the Spring Valley Area Community Foundation, and it became a “win-win” situation for all involved. The PACF generated $11,500 with the help of matched funding from F & M Community Bank, while the SVACF generated $5,420. This initiative took place during the annual “Give To The Max Day,” which is a state-wide funding initiative for non-profit organizations.

Chuck Aug introduced Alissa Blah, representing the Southeast Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF), to speak on behalf of the umbrella organization that supports community foundations like PACF. In total, there are 20 counties including Fillmore County that are a part of the Southeast Minnesota Initiative Foundation.

Following Alissa Blah, PACF President Dwight Luhmann shared five points. First, the fund balances were in excess of $230,000, and the endowment fund had exceeded $425,000. Second, the PACF will be embarking upon a capital campaign over the next two years with a goal of $25,000 per year. Thus far, Dan Christianson, Ron Gehling, Buzz Meighen, and Phil McElroy have each offered matching support. As Luhmann pointed out to the audience, none of the funds are used for administrative expenses -- only awards or grants. Third, Luhmann shared a list of projects. Fourth, Luhmann presented the new glossy brochure highlighting the PACF initiatives. And, fifth, Luhmann presented the new Facebook page for the PACF.

The keynote speaker was Duane Benson, former NFL player and Minnesota State Senator talked about how the NFL was in trouble and how that related to how important our education system was to making our world a better place. Benson said that “the future ain’t what it used to be.” Specifically, technology, globalization and a change in demographics are impacting our world as we know it.

Interestingly, Benson brought up the subject of support for the Vikings stadium. With $350 million budgeted from pull tab money, $130 million budgeted from Twin Cities taxpayers, and $475 million budgeted from Minnesota Vikings’ owners, Benson talked about how diverse the financial support will need to be for supporting the new stadium. Benson shared that his tour of the Texas stadium revealed a wide variety of revenue streams, including tours and sponsorships currently not utilized by the Minnesota Vikings. In Benson’s speech, he strived to emphasize the importance of recognizing how challenging our future will be and where we will need to invest our energy and resources. Specifically, he focused on education. “Good schools should be rewarded,” said Benson.

Following Benson’s speech, Matt Gehling of Gehling Auction proceeded with the live auction. And, Chuck Aug closed with a thank you to the crowd of supporters.

Past recipients of the Preston Area Community Foundation grants have been the Norm Larsen Scoreboard, Preston Area Tennis Courts, National Trout Center, Fillmore Central Community Ed, and Preston Historical Society. To find more information about the Preston Area Community Foundation, check out their Facebook page. In addition, the PACF recently had brochures designed and printed to help promote all that they do for the community. PACF President Dwight Luhmann has copies of the brochure available at Joerg Luhmann Law Firm in Preston, Minn., made available for public awareness.

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