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Swing into action // Volunteers sought to build playground

Published Oct. 16, 2005

Supporters of a new Brooksville playground have the money, the equipment and the desire to open the facility by the end of March. Now they need workers.

Sharon Taylor of Brooksville's Junior Service League said Monday that the group needs 400 people each day March 14-18 to drive nails, dig in the dirt and move the playground pieces into place.

"We only need about a third of them to be skilled," Mrs. Taylor said of the volunteers. "And by that I mean able to run the Skil saw and cut along a straight line. We just need hard workers."

A Junior League committee headed by Mrs. Taylor has been working since early 1989 to raise money and generate community interest in the playground. As of Monday, the group had raised $40,000 of the $50,000 needed.

This morning, Mrs. Taylor and other Junior League members will appear before the Hernando County Commission to ask for a $5,000 donation toward the cost of materials for the playground. Mrs. Taylor said Monday that the playground will be built regardless of whether the additional $10,000 is raised, but supporters hope to have all the money in hand by the March 14 construction date.

At a news conference Monday morning near the playground's site in Brooksville's Tom Varn Park, County Commission Chairman Henry Ledbetter said that the request would have his support at today's meeting.

"I don't think it's really the chairman's place to recommend anything to the board," Ledbetter said. "But I certainly will speak in favor of it."

The city of Brooksville donated the land at the park for the 10,000-square-foot playground. Plans for the park were drawn by Ithaca, N.Y., architect Robert S. Leathers, whom Time magazine once called the "Johnny Appleseed of the swing set."

But Leathers did not design the park. That was done by Hernando County elementary school children in October when Leathers' associates visited the area and asked the children what they would like in a playground.

The children's suggestions, including a giant pirate ship that will be the play area's centerpiece, were incorporated into the plans.

Two representatives of Leathers' firm will be at Tom Varn Park on March 14 to supervise construction during the five days.

Mrs. Taylor said Monday that her group is confident it will have plenty of volunteers on March 17 and 18, which are a Saturday and Sunday. She is most concerned about having enough people to work on March 14, 15 and 16.

Volunteers will be provided with lunch, and day care will be available for children of parents who want to work on the playground.

Insurance to cover any injuries during construction is being provided by the city of Brooksville.

The Junior League will sponsor one more large fund-raising event before construction begins. On March 10, personalities from Brooksville radio station WWJB will play basketball against personalities from St. Petersburg television station WTSP-Ch. 10.

The game will be played at Parrott Middle School beginning at 6 p.m. Tickets will cost $2 for adults and $1 for students and will be available at the school.

To volunteer Anyone who would like to volunteer to help construct the playground can call 799-6393.