The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

September 13, 2012

Trust awards more than $395,000 to Southeast Kansas organizations

PITTSBURG, Kan. — More than $395,000 in grants were distributed Thursday by the Pritchett Trust to organizations in Southeast Kansas.

The majority of them operate in Crawford County.

Established in 1994 after the deaths of longtime Pittsburg residents William B. and Athlyn C. Pritchett, the fund’s mission is to improve the quality of life in Crawford County and Southeast Kansas by supporting initiatives that serve those populations.

Soon after their marriage in 1920, the couple opened the Pritchett Insurance Agency in Pittsburg. During the 1930s and 1940s, they invested in oil and gas leases in Kansas and Oklahoma, which proved to be successful.

This year’s grants included several that were small, like $600 to the SEK Interlocal No. 637 for the purchase of playground equipment at its preschool. It also included several that were larger, like two $50,000 grants — one to Pittsburg High School in support of a regulation soccer field, track and stadium, which will allow the school to be host for its first track meet in 20 years, and one to Pittsburg State University to provide scholarships for Crawford County students.

Karen Sooter, in accepting $3,000 for the Pittsburg Adult Education Center, said the money will provide financial assistance for testing fees for adult students who will take the GED exam.

“When they achieve their educational goals there is a ripple effect, through their family, their children, their neighbors, their friends, and in the community there is an economic impact,” Sooter said. “They become employable and they can earn a sustainable wage.”

Joella Reid, in accepting $5,000 on behalf of Pittsburg Community Theatre, said it will be used in support of the annual children’s theater workshop. It, too, has a ripple effect, she said.

“Our graduates have moved on to the drama programs at the middle school, the high school, the university, and a lot of them are coming back to direct and star in our adult productions,” she said.

Not all grants were given to schools: The Broadway Tower Corp. received $1,800 with which to install an automatic handicapped accessible door at the Knights of Columbus Tower building, for example. The Chicopee Foundation received $4,000 with which to purchase new lighting fixtures in the social hall of the Chicopee Community Center. And the Pittsburg Family YMCA received $15,000 to spend on an air unit above the swimming pool to reduce humidity.

Other organizations that received grants are American Legion Post No. 43, Arma City Library, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Crawford County, Boy Scouts of America, Caring for Kids, Catholic Charities Inc., Cato Historical Preservation Association, Children’s Advocacy Center, City of Frontenac, City of Pittsburg Parks & Recreation Department, Colonial Fox Theatre Foundation, Elm Acres Youth and Family Services, Franklin Community Council Inc., Hearts and Hammers of Pittsburg Inc., Meadowlark Elementary, Mother to Mother Ministry, New Hope Special Olympics, Northeast School District, Pawprints on the Heartland, Pittsburg Family YMCA, Pittsburg High School, Pittsburg Public Library, R.V. Haderlein Elementary School, the Salvation Army, SEK Interlocal No. 637, SEK Learning Center, St. Mary’s Elementary School, St. Mary’s-Colgan Schools, Unified School District 247 Southeast, and Wesley House.

The ceremony and check presentation was held at the M&I Pittsburg branch.

Initial investment

According to advisory board member Jack Overman, the initial investment in the trust was $3 million. More than $6 million in grants have been awarded.

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