Thursday, May 17, 2001

Many helpers make playground worth the work

By Allen Howard
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Thousands of volunteers will pluck splinters, bandage blisters and wipe sweat without complaint as they build an elaborate playground at Chase Elementary School and the McKie Community Center over the coming days.

        About 200 volunteers with the 1,000 Hands Project started digging holes, sawing lumber, placing blocks and spreading dirt at 8 a.m. Wednesday on the Northside lot. A slight rain slowed the process shortly after noon, but didn't stop it.

[photo] Volunteer Leo Rauf of Highland Heights is framed in a plastic tunnel as he works.
(Glenn Hartong photos)
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        Project coordinator Wayne Lurix, a supervisor with the Cincinnati Recreation Commission, said they plan to finish the playground by 6 p.m. Sunday.

        “We expect to use about 2,500 volunteers before we finish,” Mr. Lurix said. “We encourage families to sign up because this can be a family project.”

        Children from Chase Elementary School said they were proud to be a part of the project.

        “I just helped to move a block of wood, right over there,” said Jessie Ruffin, 14, a seventh-grader. “I am glad to be a part of building a playground.”

        Michael Hogan, 14, an eighth-grader, said he thinks it is good to involve children because they will feel they are a part of it and will help to keep it clean.

[photo] Struggling to raise a large timber, volunteers Mike Domino of Western Hills (left), Scott Booher of Covedale and Ken Welling of Price Hill join volunteers putting up a playground in Northside.
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        Shelley Roberts, a specia- education teacher at Chase, said the classrooms took turns in working on the playground. “We didn't have any trouble getting volunteers,” she said.

        The playground will cost about $175,000, financed mainly by the Cincinnati Recreation Commission and donations.

        And it will reflect some of the aura of a local landmark, Mr. Lurix said.

        “We will have painted murals to look like the mosaic in Union Terminal,” he said. “We will have a little train and a riverboat.”

        Mike Cohen, a construction consultant with Leathers and Associates of Ithaca, N.Y., which designed the project, said this is the second one he has worked on in Cincinnati. Similar playgrounds have been built in Mount Washington, Price Hill and Pleasant Ridge.

        “This does something special to me to see people working together and matching their skills,” Mr. Cohen said.

        The project was a first for Kathy Franklin of Anderson Township.

        “The most interesting thing about this project is that it shows that people can work together,” she said.

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