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Wyocena library the latest Lenz trust recipient

July 28, 2017 GMT

WYOCENA — Don’t tell Kristyn Sommers the Wyocena Public Library “only” received $900 from the Edward and June Lenz Charitable Trust.

“This really allows the library to spread the values the trust stands for,” said Sommers, the library director.

The money is from one of several grants issued by the trust this summer, gifts intended to enhance opportunities for youth and the elderly in and around Portage and Pardeeville.

“This is a great deal for us,” Sommers said, noting that Wyocena, like almost any public library, has limited money and space. The nonprofit organization Friends of the Wyocena Public Library sought the grant, which will be used for advertising library programs.

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First up is “Sensational Toddlers,” a program Sommers said is designed to “engage young minds in the world around them,” to be held at 10 a.m. Aug. 5. The program is free and open to the public.

For information about programming thereafter, Sommers suggests people visit the library’s wesbite — wyocenalibrary.org — or visit the library’s Facebook page.

Lenzes ‘giving people’

June Lenz and her husband were residents of both Portage and Pardeeville in their lifetimes. June Lenz, who died in 2014, taught business classes at Pardeeville High School for 42 years. Together they operated a printing business in Pardeeville.

“I’ve heard a lot about how they were giving people, both in their life and now after as well,” the trust board’s secretary, Jesse Spankowski said Wednesday.

In June, Court Appointed Special Advocates in Columbia County was revived after a four-year hiatus thanks to a grant from the Lenz trust for $40,000 a year in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

The trust’s advisory board had earlier notified Portage Family Skate Park that it had been awarded up to $37,500 in matching funds.

Late last year, the Lenz trust provided the city of Portage with $50,000 in matching funds for a new playground installed at Pauquette Park, the first issuance. The trust later provided $20,000 in direct funds to Pardeeville Elementary School for playground equipment and $3,500 to Columbia County Aging and Disability Resource Center to benefit its home-delivered meal program and its Grandparents Raising Grandchildren program.

‘A balancing act’

Three more grants are “in progress,” Spankowski said. They’ll be issued later this summer. The board consists of Spankowski, who is also city attorney; Dennis Locy, a retired Pardeeville accountant; Faye Burmeister, past village clerk in Wyocena; attorney John Miller of Portage; and John Miller’s daughter, Krista Russell, also an attorney.

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Local entities submit for the grants, the trust board reviews them and then makes requests to the trustees, BMO Harris Bank in Madison. The process should be “ongoing” for at least the next few years, Spankowski said, though only BMO Harris knows exactly how much money is in the trust.

“It’s a balancing act of giving money when people ask, but not all of it,” Spankowski said. “So it’s the job of the board to decide what we see (as a need), what we might see — what we don’t even know about yet.”