WILLISTON, N.D. - Four Williston State College projects were awarded a total of $12,000 from the STAR Fund, an initiative from the Williston City Commission to help finance local business and community improvement initiatives.
Submitted to the City of Williston Economic Development Board, groups from around the area are given the opportunity to submit grant applications to fund various projects. Four WSC staff members that successfully applied were Amanda Piesik, Cailtin Pallai, Shanna Curlin, Karissa Kjos, and Jenny Wolf.
WSC's Adult Learning Center Coordinator Amanda Piesik's goal for the grant was to set up ELL (English Language Learner) and GED classes in Watford City. Piesik was awarded $5,000 to help fund teachers for those classes.
Piesik details the program's impressive attendance growth, in both McKenzie and Williams Counties. "Last year, we ended with 6 students from McKenzie County, and it's doubled this year!" She also mentions the importance of having a location in Watford City. "[They] struggle to complete the program due to lack of funds to drive to Williston for class."
Piesik thanks WSC for their support of the program, including allowing the space for it on campus, giving it publicity, and helping GED recipients transition to college classes. She also appreciates that they can utilize resources like the Math lab to better understand the material. Piesik encourages those interested in the GED/ELL programs, or computer classes, to go on the WSC website.
Caitlin Pallai, Executive Assistant to the Vice-President for Academic Affairs, is a member of Leadership Williston. She developed her own project that aims to change perception of Williston's downtown area by adding artistic images to the mix.
"I've heard people complain that Williston is a dirty place, but I think introducing more colorful art around town can help counter that belief." With the help of Clean Slate Group, she plans to wrap traffic signal boxes as an "eye-catching way to introduce more art and color to a city on a surface you don't usually notice."
Pallai's hometown of Sequim, Washington, as well as other U.S. cities like Bismarck, North Dakota, have introduced similar initiatives. The theme is said to be "What makes Williston Williston / Williston Traditions", with boxes dedicated to agriculture, oil/gas, and historical downtown Williston. The funding given to Pallai's project was even more than she expected, and she says that it might even be enough to fund up to five boxes with additional themes. Pallai also excitedly notes that there are plenty more traffic boxes around town, so the project includes a lot of room for expansion.
Though this project is Pallai's baby, she wants to recognize the employees from both the City and the College who assisted her in getting to this point. "I've certainly gotten advice and assistance on the initial project plan and the STAR Fund process from Debbie Richter, Shawn Wenko, and Rachel Laqua from the City. Also, WSC partially funded the cost of my participation in Leadership Williston (the Chamber of Commerce covered my other half). Dr. Miller is supportive of my Leadership Williston involvement, and I hope to continue working with the college in promotion of my project."
Shanna Curlin, TrainND's Finance Manager, created the Women in Leadership (WiL) Expo, a now-annual conference put on through association with WSC's TrainND program. Taking place for the fifth year in a row, the event aims to encourage and assist women in pursuing their personal and professional goals.
Curlin expresses her elation at receiving funding for the project. "The [expo] is a great workplace development and continuing education event for our female leaders. It provides engaging speakers, interactive workshops, and thoughtful discussions. Attendees have the opportunity to connect, learn new skills and knowledge, share experiences and inspire each other to achieve. We thank the City for the funding and look forward to this year's event." The Wil:Expo is scheduled to take place at TrainND on October 4th.
Karissa Kjos, Student Life Coordinator at WSC, and Jenny Wolf, Creative Director, also received funding. "We like bringing in community speakers every semester, so we applied for money to help bring one in that is more well-known," Kjos explains. "We will now be able to reach out to larger acts that our communities can connect to and learn from."
"We like to keep the event free for the community, so this will definitely help with that," Kjos says. She adds that events at WSC are usually funded through various departments on campus, as well as with support from the WSC Foundation. Now, this help from the STAR Fund will surely assist in attracting big names to WSC, and improving local quality of life.
The Williston City Commission's STAR Fund has, and will continue, to be a big help to those in our community. WSC is thankful to receive monetary assistance in developing local programs and initiatives. These efforts will be beneficial towards elevating the quality of life in and around Williston.
For more information on Williston's STAR Fund, please visit http://willistondevelopment.com/business/williston_star_fund.php. For more information on WSC please visit www.willistonstate.edu
call 1.888.863.9455, or stop by 1410 University Avenue, Williston, ND.