PITTSBURG — BMO Harris Bank, as trustee of the Pritchett Trust, awarded over $458,000 to 46 projects in Crawford County Thursday.

The Pritchett Trust was created in 1994 after Pittsburg residents William B. Pritchett and Athlyn C. Pritchett. The purpose of the trust to to improve Crawford County by awarding grants to local schools, service organizations and more. Since the first grants were awarded in 1995, the trust has awarded more than $8.8 million to organizations in Crawford County and southeast Kansas.

BMO hosted a ceremony to honor the 2017 recipients and award checks Thursday.

“This is one of my favorite times of the year,” BMO Manager Kimberly Nolan said. “It is a great time to come together and recognize all that these organizations do for Pittsburg and Crawford County.”

The Trust completed a number of multiple-year grants this year.

The last $50,000 of a $150,000, three-year grant to the City of Pittsburg was awarded Thursday. The grant has been used to create a network of sidewalks, trails and shared-lane pavement to increase connectivity throughout Pittsburg.

“We plan to use this last installment to connect the Pitsco Sunflower Trail with the Pittsburg State University Trail,” Pittsburg Parks and Recreations Director Kim Vogel said.

The trust also awarded over $22,000 to the Crawford County Historical Museum as the second part of a two-year grant. The grant was used to replace the roof at the museum.

“The roof was completed in December,” CCHM Director Amanda Minton said. “The collections of Crawford County are now safe and sound.”

Safehouse Crisis Center was awarded $20,000 in the second year of a three-year grant to renovate the kitchens at its new facility.

“We recently moved into the new facility,” Program Director Brooke Powell said. “Since moving in we haven’t had to turn away a single family, and the kitchens have been a place for people to come together and really bond while with us.”

Several grants were awarded to area schools, including Southeast High School, the Northeast Arma School District and Girard FFA.

Pittsburg schools also received several grants for items ranging from STEM equipment to new instruments for middle and high school orchestra and band.

“It may look strange how few instruments we can get with this amount of money, but they go a long way,” Pittsburg Instrumental Music Teacher Cooper Neil said. “I have a bassoon in my band room that was made in West Berlin.”

PSU was awarded $50,000 for the Pritchett Trust Scholarship Program, which assists Crawford County students attending PSU.

“One thing I’ve noticed is a lot of our graduates coming forward today to accept awards,” PSU President Dr. Steve Scott said. “That’s wonderful and this money keeps that going.”

Other organizations including Kansas Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Boy Scouts of America and many more accepted grants as well.

— Chance Hoener is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at choener@morningsun.net or follow him on Twitter @ReporterChance.