Six local charities and organizations in the Lemay and community received a total of $1.7 million to improve the area. The recipients were announced Tuesday night at the Jefferson Barracks Visitors Center in front of more than 200 people.
County Executive Charlie Dooley, County Councilman Steve Stenger and representatives from the Port Authority and St. Louis County Economic Council presented the awards to the groups, charged with using the funds to significantly change the streetscape in the area.
The grants are the third round administered by the Port Authority, an affiliate of the St. Louis County Economic Council. The funds stem from the Port Authority Community Reinvestment Fund, created by revenue from the land lease of Pinnacle Entertainment’s River City Casino.
For the first five years of its lease, the Port Authority pledges to reinvest 75 percent of River City's monthly $333,333 lease payments to the Lemay community. The Port Authority gives out the grants to organizations in need of funds for specific projects.
More than $20 million will be generated over the next five years and given to organizations that need a last push of funding for their projects.
The received $150,000 to restore the last boarded-up, derelict building surrounding the parade grounds at Jefferson Barracks.
Gary Stevens and a group of Civil War buffs started the restoration efforts for the museum more than seven years ago.
The group will convert the building next to it into a Missouri Civil War Studies Center. This project follows the restoration and creation of the Missouri Civil War Museum, . The studies center is set to open 12-18 months after the museum's projected opening this winter.
“People can come in to learn and research,” he said. “It’ll be a nice compliment to the museum.”
Stevens said the group has already gotten inquiries from authors and filmmakers because of their significant collection of materials. Over the years, they’ve collected materials, documents, books and photos.
A South County family donated a Confederate surgeon's trunk to the organization, which contained currency and letters to the soldier’s family back home.
The letters revealed the surgeon’s journey and eventual death.
“That was an amazing find,” Stevens said. “It’s both happy and sad to discover, but now his story is out there.”
The building – formerly the 1918 Jefferson Barracks Post Exchange Building- needs to be restored and designed to fit the collection of books and artifacts. The roof, windows and doors will be redone.
“We look forward to sharing it with the area and the rest of Missouri,” Stevens said.
Also in Jefferson Barracks, the American Legion Post 15 received $250,000 to build a memorial after discovering lost artifacts.
Fifteen years ago, Frank "Skip" Berger made in the lower level of Soldiers' Memorial in downtown St. Louis.
Fifteen unmarked barrels filled with 752 cast bronze disks stood in the dust. Each disk bore the name and military information of a St. Louis service member who lost his or her life while serving in World War I. The serendipitous find began a chain reaction of activity that would impress even professional historians.
Berger and his fellow soldiers at the Rollo-Calcaterra American Legion Post 15 immediately began researching the disks and learned the markers, cast at a local foundry in the 1920s, were commissioned by the American Gold Star Mothers, a group who wished to honor their fallen sons and daughters.
The post will use the money to construct a Court of Honor Memorial in Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.
“This is unreal,” Berger said at the presentation ceremony. “This was a local monument that was discarded, and now (we’re) putting it on federal property.”
Other grant recipients include:Organization Grant Amount Purpose Lemay Housing Partnership $780,000 The LHP repaired more than 30 homes last year for the elderly and impoverished families. They will use this year's funds to expand and help 50 homes, increasing their community development work. Lemay Housing Partnership and the Legal Services of Eastern Missouri $18,500 This partnership was formed to provide civil legal assistance to low-income individuals in Lemay. The two organizations will also host workshops to teach residents about home ownership and its responsiblilities. Mid-East Area Agency on Aging $500,000 An organization that provides Meals on Wheels, hot meals and activities for seniors, the MEAAA operates the South County Senior Center on Gentry Avenue. The group will use the funds to purchase a new space for the senior center and triple its capacity and size. South County Economic Improvement Group $30,000 The improvement group will use the funds for a beautification project at the intersection of Interstate 255 and Telegraph Road. The group considers that intersection to be the main corridor to Lemay and into Missouri. They'll plant wild flowers and clean up the area.
Check back tomorrow for more of Lemay’s improvement projects.