BY BECKY DICKERSON
Sometimes a community needs a push and thanks to a grassroot effort led by sisters Valerie Brewer and Jessiann Loomis, area youth will benefit from new play equipment planned for the St. John City Park.
Brewer said fundraising for new playground equipment streamed in as word was received the city council needed to remove existing structures as early as this winter, citing liability concerns from the town’s insurance carrier.
“We started fundraising on September 19 and we’ve hit the $29,888.87 mark, already,” said Brewer. The scope of the project will depend on the total amount raised through coin drives, breakfast burrito sales, private donations and business contributions. The St. John Community Club’s Winterfest Benefit Auction said they would donate upward of $20,000 from event proceeds toward new playground equipment.
CHS Primeland has committed $25 to the park fund for every set of new tires purchased at their store. In addition, the St. John City Council approved $5,000 toward the new playground project.
As the fund grows so do the possibilities, says Brewer, who believes there are impressive options for equipment. The project had an initial ballpark budget of $45,000. After a meeting with the park inspector, it became evident that the amount budgeted for protective surfacing was too low. The budget is currently being revised and will be finished in time to apply for matching grants.
Most of the playground at the park was installed in the early 1970s, thanks to a similar effort made by the St. John Junior Women’s Club. Member Jeannie Murray said their group of women understood kids needed a safe, happy place to play. To her best recollection they installed the slide, monkey bars, swings, tires, gazebo and a merry-go-round (that has since been replaced, once.)
The goal is to have the new equipment purchased and installed before summer vacation next year. For more information or to donate to the Park Fund contact Brewer at (509) 648- 3438 or IEMC at (509) 648-3366. Contributions are also accepted through a GoFundMe account: