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Paynesville Press - May 12, 2003

Playground receives upgrades over summer

By Addi Larson

It's back to school and back to play for students at the elementary school next week. Over the summer, the playground at Paynesville Area Elementary School was revamped with a brand new basketball court, equipped for use both by students and the public.

New playground equipment Six new, height-adjustable basketball hoops were added and concrete laid to make up the court. Two hoops, at opposite ends of the 84' by 50' wide court, are set at 10 feet - regulation height - for adults to play team games, play one-on-one, or practice free throws. Two hoops are set at nine feet, and two hoops are set at eight feet.

The city worked with the school to help finance the project, which provides Paynesville's only public outdoor basketball court, located at the the intersection of Washburne Avenue and Mill Street.

Ben Coleman of Rochester, Quinn Schollett of Michigan, and Nick Coleman of Rochester - all grandchildren of Hank and Nancy Schollett of Paynesville - enjoyed climbing on the new Tarantula at the playground last week.

Before it was decided that the school would add a basketball court, elementary principal Deb Gillman asked students and the public, "What are some things that you'd like to see?" Students in grades three, four, and five desired more athletic playground activities.

And it was apparent, said Gillman, that younger students had enough to keep them busy and entertained on the playground.

In addition to the new basketball court, the playground project included the installation of two new pieces of equipment - a Pegasus and a Tarantula - last winter, the removal of a swing set, and connecting the playground drains to the city's stormwater sewer to eliminate spring flooding.

Gillman said the school worked within the budget ($52,500) and kept to priorities and minimum repairs. There are currently no further improvements planned for the playground.

Two thirds of the improvements have been paid for by the school district, a third by fundraising and a third from the capital budget. One third has been paid for by the city.

For her Girl Scout Gold Award, PAHS junior Allie Wendroth repainted playground equipment in primary hues of red, yellow, and blue, in addition to Bulldog green, of course. She gathered volunteers from the community to help her scrape several pieces of equipment and then paint them with two coats of primer and three coats of paint. To raise money for the project, Wendroth developed "Loose Change For Loose Paint" where PAES students could donate money toward repainting existing playground equipment.

Wendroth also contributed two new signs, which hang over each of the two gates and welcome students to their recreational turf named "Chutes 'n' Ladders." She also purchased and had installed a new gate at the playground leading to the Gazebo Park. This gate was added to make the playground more inviting from the neighboring city park.

With her surplus funds, Wendroth is planning to purchase a bench for the basketball court, a tetherball set, and a rolling cart for basketballs and other equipment.

This summer, youth utilized the basketball court for other activities, such as hand ball, which requires a court designating four squares and a ball. Painting of lines for hand ball and lane lines for basketball will be finished this fall. Also, a crosswalk, between the playground and Gazebo Park is planned.

The basketball court is open for use by the public during non-school hours and during the summers.

Other projects at the elementary school over the summer included the addition of new computers to the computer lab, and a roofing project, which is planned to continue through the first week of school, including school hours, weather permitting.

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