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A dedication and blessing of the new playground equipment at the Fredericktown park was held on Friday with several local officials in attendance.
Washington County Judge-Executive John Settles said there were many people who contributed to making the upgrades happen, and that the end result is something the entire community can enjoy.
“Taxpayer dollars bought this and built it and it’s there for taxpayers to use,” he said. “I came by one day and there was a mother pushing a baby carriage, there was a small child running ahead and there was one on a bicycle with them. That’s what it’s all about; get families out and get them together.”
Several changes have been made to the park in recent years, starting with the addition of a walking trail in 2006, which has since been re-sealed, as well as new bleachers and other seating. Settles said the improvements had been in the works for quite some time.
“The equipment that was here had gotten very dangerous,” Settles said. “I brought our insurance company down to look at it and they said, ‘Please tear it out.’”
Washington County Fiscal Court searched for a grant for three years to help pay for the new equipment with no success. Finally, Settles said the issue was resolved once county government, the Holy Trinity Parish Council and District 6 Magistrate Greg Simms each made contributions.
The improvements aren’t quite don’t yet, however, as just last Thursday the county was approved for a grant for six inches of crumb rubber to be installed throughout the playground area to make it safer. Settles estimated that the changes could be implemented by the end of June.
Settles also recognized Mark and Denita Simms for their contributions to the park since St. Dominic began playing baseball and softball games at the park, while Father Matthew Hardesty of Holy Trinity Church tipped his hat to parishioners Mark and Mary Alice Smith, who handle most of the management of the field.
State Representative Kim King was among those in attendance, along with her 5-year-old granddaughter Paisley Brooke, who provided the first expert analysis of the improvements.
“She’s already said, ‘I love this park,’ and we have already made plans to bring a picnic lunch back when it’s a little bit warmer and the weather is cooperating,” King said.
The legislator also spoke on the importance of bringing this type of community service to the area.
“I can just envision families sitting around and watching their children play, and kind of getting them away from their gadgets and exercising more than their thumbs,” she said. “This is such a blessing for the community and we look forward to enjoying it with you.”