As I was running errands this morning, I happened upon the Caroline County YMCA to which I was looking to join. As I pulled into the parking lot I saw Supervisors Clay Forehand (Madison) and Nancy Long (Port Royal), as well as Chief Loftus, Sheriff Lippa, and Major Moser. I figured there must be something fascinating going on.
As it turned out, I drove up just minutes before a ribbon cutting for a new public playground for our Caroline County children. While this might seem like a small thing (not you mom and dad, I know you’re stoked), the establishment of this playground represents everything I love about Caroline County and our community.
Originally, the playground was donated to Mary Washington Hospital Foundation by Doris Buffett, the sister of Warren Buffett. The hospital, no longer requiring the equipment, was searching for an alternative location. Thanks to Scott Edson, the Caroline YMCA location was brought to MWHF’s attention. All they had to do was move the equipment. With a $20,000 investment by the Caroline YMCA Board and private donations, the playground seemed like a possibility.
Dan Webb from Webb and ASsociates offered to do the site plan for free. Avery Hillard, HICO Services, Inc. donated money for the cost for the site work, cement work, and the laying of mulch. Beasley Concrete offered reduced rates on concrete. G&G Hardware and Sakrete donated bagged cement. Quail Ridge donated topsoil. Cory Parker, of Quality Grounds, did finishing site work and added the grass, which wasn’t there two weeks ago. Triple K Fence is installing fencing at a reduced rate. Aqua Virginia, under the direction of Brad Campbell, donated $4500. Donations were received from Rappahannock Electric Coop, Brian Wolfe, The Community Foundation of the Rappahannock River Region, the Luckstone Foundation, Ginni Mastin from Matern Staffing and many other individuals in Caroline County.
Now, the actual construction of the playground could have cost around $42,000. So, over several weeks, Supervisors Clay Forehand and Jeff Black (Western Caroline), John Bowers, Dave Sadler, (the man!) Bernard Vianes and the YMCA leadership and board decided to try to construct this large playground themselves. Thanks to Kevin Wightman (the man who is everywhere and does everything in Caroline County) and crew, including Wesley Deloach, Pete Wade, Robert Stenson, Jason Loftus, and Scott Moser, swept in on eagle’s wings and helped finished the job and made sure that the new playground was safe and up to code. Intuit employees joined in the fray offering brawn and bodies. Then Mr. Wightman and Sheriff Lippa returned and helped put the finishing touches on a truly community project.
Why This is so Wonderful…
Caroline County is a wonderful community. We don’t have the resources that the cities to our north and south possess. We make up for it with our commitment to one another as friends and neighbors, business-owners, and government officials. Like many of you, I turn on the news every day and wonder what it is that keeps this country together. Well, I’ll tell you. It’s community. It’s the tradition and community involvement of so many Caroline County residents who remain committed to all that keeps us all together.
As many of you know, I spent the last year studying Public Policy and Community Economic Development. I refused to do research projects that depended upon big city budgets for my classes because I liked the idea of trying to figure out how to stimulate community develop with local dollars and community participation. Sure, today we’re just talking about a playground, that many of our children will enjoy for the years to come.
What will we be talking about tomorrow? What else can we accomplish for Caroline County when we all work together? It is true. When it comes to local government and local communities, I’m a bit of a romantic – but that doesn’t make me wrong and all the people who worked on this project prove me right.