Bethel Community Savings Bank board members approved a donation to the Asian Longhorned Beetle Citizens’ Cooperative May 24 with potential for their donation to reach $10,000.
The bank donated $5,000 to the organization’s legal defense fund and agreed to match donations that the cooperative receives from citizens up to an additional $5,000.
The Asian Longhorned Beetle Citizens’ Cooperative is a grassroots organization dedicated to preserving non-infested host trees in the community.
“The donation and match is enormous,” Bill Skvarla, a member of the cooperative and owner of Harmony Hill Vineyards in Bethel, said. “This is what Community Savings Bank is all about.”
John Essen, president of the bank, and Jim Smith, board of directors member, presented the initial check of $5,000 to Skvarla May 31.
“We are the community bank in Bethel and this is our community,” Smith said. “We really care what is happening with the Asian longhorned beetle.”
Smith said if non-infested host trees are removed from the community it could look become a tree-less wasteland.
“We are at a crossroads with this thing,” Smith said. “Either we stand up now or it is going to be a decision we have to live with. The board was very supportive of the bank’s commitment here.”
Essen said the decision to donate money and assist the cooperative was made by board members May 24.
He said they are aware of how much the infestation and eradication efforts could change the village in the future.
“It is right in line with our mission to be a key resource with regards to development in the village,” he said.
Skvarla said donations are important to the mission of the cooperative, because they are relying on donations to pay for legal fees.
He said since the cooperative has been working with attorneys from Dinsmore and Shohl, their need for donations continues to increase.
“The work they’ve done and continue to do increases on a regular basis,” Skvarla said about the attorneys. “This all helps us with the bills we’ve accumulated.”
Skvarla announced the news about the donation and match from Community Savings Bank at the Asian Longhorned Beetle Cooperative meeting May 29 and said residents who attended the meeting donated $780 that night alone.
He said the bank will match that amount, as well as other donations from citizens in the community.
For more information about the cooperative or how to donate, visit www.bethelalb.com.