The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

February 5, 2013

Rudy Gelnett community fund swells by $250,000

By Marcia Moore
The Daily Item

— SELINSGROVE — The $5 million bequeathed to the borough of Selinsgrove by late resident Francis “Rudy” Gelnett in 2011 has already benefited many in the past year.

Placed in a trust following Gelnett’s death at the age of 95 in November 2010, the $5 million made significant gains in the stock market, increasing by $258,000 in one year to a total of $5.31 million at the end of 2012.

“We’re making good use of it. We’re blazing new territory,” said borough council member Dorothy Anderson during Monday’s public meeting after making note that officials are unable to find a similar municipal trust anywhere else in the country.

The Gelnett Trust was established to promote the health, education and welfare of borough residents. Individuals and organizations are encouraged to apply for funding to aid in equipment purchases, capital campaigns, program developments and special projects.

In the past year, the trust has provided nearly $160,000 to a variety of local groups, including Dauntless Hook & Ladder Fire Company, the community pool, parks and recreation commission and Governor Snyder monument.

Only a few have been turned down for ineligibility, including one request from a group based outside the borough.

Most recently, Chris Schlieder, of Selinsgrove, applied for $25,000 to assist in his effort to outdo the world’s largest banana split built in Selinsgrove in 1988.

According to the Guinness World Record, the dessert stretched 4.55 miles.

Schlieder, who has received approval from the borough to stage the event in May, is aiming to make a 5-mile ice cream treat.

He applied to the trust for financial assistance after failing to secure a tax-exempt sponsor but found out his event is not eligible because it’s being held not only to break a world record, but to raise money for Muscular Dystrophy.

The Gelnett Trust “is not a charity,” Anderson said.

While supportive of Schlieder’s event, council member Erik Viker said it doesn’t meet the funding criteria.

“Bragging rights for a big banana split doesn’t seem to fall in line,” he said.

Many requests for funding are granted, though, and Treasurer Sherri Badman encourages people to apply. To obtain an application, visit the borough office at 1 N. High St., Selinsgrove, or call 374-2311.