McLeansboro Times-Leader

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July 23, 2011

Ready to 'refurbish, refresh' playground

Project to begin Aug. 1 to rebuild section of Kids Kingdom hit by fire

McLEANSBORO — A committee has set dates for a project to “refurbish and refresh” Kids Kingdom in the wake of a fire at the popular playground on Memorial Day.

The fire May 30 destroyed the east portion of Kids Kingdom, the playground which hundreds of community volunteers came together to build in June 2006 after receiving a $100,000 donation from McLeansboro native Jerry Sloan. A 13-year-old Franklin County boy was charged with setting the fire.

Phase I of the rebuild project — which will include repainting all existing structures, fencing and the newly reconstructed portions of the “Tot Lot” destroyed in the recent fire — will begin Monday, Aug. 1, the committee announced Friday.

 Phase II — to include reconstruction to repair and replace the burned structures in the Tot Lot — will begin Wednesday, Aug. 3, and run through Saturday, Aug. 6.

While the work is under way, all of Kiwanis Park will be closed to the general public, Mayor Dick Deitz said after a committee meeting Friday. Currently, portions of the park — such as a picnic shelter and restrooms — remain open to the public, though the playground is closed.

To celebrate the completion of the project, a ribbon cutting and barbecue is planned for 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 7, at Kids Kingdom. The public is invited to attend.

When the playground was built in 2006, the intent was that refurbishing was to occur every five years — and that’s now, Deitz noted.

As part of the preparations for the reconstruction project, four trees — one of which was badly burned in the fire — were removed Friday at the playground site. The committee has purchased two new trees which were to be planted this week, Deitz said.

Meanwhile, leaders are in place for various aspects of the project.

Kelly Williams Karcher will coordinate volunteers for the paint project, which is expected to continue through Aug. 6.

She may be reached at 736-2655.

Jim Inman will act as coordinator for skilled labor to reconstruct the burned portion of the Tot Lot. Sustaining the brunt of the damage in the fire were a swingset and a replica of an eight-sided building from Hamilton County’s past.

Tools such as rakes, shovels, stepladders, routers, drills and sawhorses will be needed, and tools loaned for the project will need to be marked with the owner’s personal identification marker or tag, the committee advised.

To volunteer as a skilled or unskilled laborer, or to loan tools for use in the project, you may call Inman at 643-4140.

The project’s two phases will operate simultaneously beginning Thursday, Aug. 4.

Crews will be scheduled to work four-hour intervals starting at 8 a.m. until approximately 9 p.m.

Meals for volunteers will be provided beginning Thursday, Aug. 4, from noon to 12:30 p.m. and 4:30 to 5 p.m.

Those interested in volunteering to serve food or make food donations — including water and paper products — may do so by contacting Marilyn Lewis, food donations coordinator, at 643-2328 or 308-0793.

Volunteer coordinator Ann Johnson is seeking individuals to help with registration, parking and cooling stations. She may be contacted at 599-0872.

Volunteers will be required to sign a liability waiver, and individuals 17 and younger will need the signature of a parent or guardian, the committee noted.

Members of the Kids Kingdom steering committee are Deitz and his wife, Sue; Richard and Sharon Lasswell; Jim and Paula Mason; and Richard and Dot Woods. Questions or financial donations may be directed to them.

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