WASHINGTON, D.C. [03/18/22]—U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) announced federal funding to be awarded to two projects in Northern Minnesota. $305,000 will be provided to the Aitkin County Sheriff’s office to upgrade equipment, and $14,000 will be given to Morrison County United Way to support their “Imagination Library” childhood literacy program which gives children one book a month for the first five years of their lives (the program is in conjunction with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library).
“These are two important investments that will support communities in Northern Minnesota. The Aitkin County Sheriff’s Office has been using outdated communications equipment and this upgrade will allow them to better meet the needs people across the county,” said Sen. Smith. “The Morrison County United Way program provides equal access to literacy learning by giving free books to families for the first five years of their children’s lives. Reading to young children is one of the best things we can do for them and I’m proud to support this investment to get more books into the hands of the littlest Minnesotans.”
Aitkin County Sheriff’s Office
$305,000 awarded to the sheriff’s office to replace aging public safety communications equipment, which will include portable and mobile radios.
“The Aitkin County Sheriff’s Office is very excited to receive this funding. We will be able to update our expired radio system to meet new radio mandates without additional burden to the taxpayers of Aitkin County,” said Aitkin County Sheriff Dan Guida. “I have no doubt this will help keep our community a safe place to live, work, and play! Thank you so much for considering our requests and supporting Aitkin County!”
Morrison County United Way Imagination Library
$14,000 awarded to the organization to deliver age appropriate books to enrolled children from birth to five years of age. Participating children will receive 1 book per month until they graduate out of the program and move on to kindergarten. This project is in partnership with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library and serves all of Morrison County and three zip codes in Todd County: Staples, Grey Eagle and Burtrum.
“We currently have 913 children age 0-5 enrolled in the Imagination Library program in our service area and have graduated 4,373 children from the program. Based on community input, the board has decided that this program is our top priority and we do not want to have to limit the number of children that we can serve,” said Meghann Boser, Executive Director of Morrison County United Way. “This funding is making that all possible, we are so grateful for the work that Senator Tina Smith did on our behalf. This funding will have a huge impact in our area – it’s definitely a game changer for us and we can’t express how excited and thankful we are!”
Senator Smith has been an active advocate in pushing for these projects to be funded as part of the federal spending bill, which President Biden signed into law on March 15. Allocating funds to specific state projects like this has not been provided by Congress for the last decade, making this investment in Northern Minnesota critical for supporting these communities.