NORTH POWDER — Mike Morse, the interim mayor of North Powder, looked out at the nearly two dozen volunteers from across the state congregated just behind the old firehouse in North Powder. They were putting in the final structures of what will be the new playground in the small town on the edge of Union County.
“It’s about damn time,” he said.
The new playground replaces older dilapidated structures at the park, which sits at Fourth and D streets in North Powder. Many of those structures — a roundabout, swings, teeter totters and a climbing structure for kids — were worn down, with decaying wood and deteriorating metal.
“It was falling apart,” Morse said.
Funding for the project came from a sizable donation — $10,000 — from the Masonic Lodge. The project broke ground on Aug. 25, and officials expect it to be finished before the end of October.
George Marston, the de facto project manager for the new playground, said the donation helped jumpstart the project but it wasn’t nearly enough to cover all of the replacement structures. The rest of the funds — totaling nearly $57,000 — were gathered through grants and donations.
“The Masons had donated $10,000 for a piece of playground equipment in the park,” Marston said. “The city really hadn’t done much with the $10,000 for a year, and a decision was going to be made to do something with it or return it. I was asked by one of the Mason members here in town to help the city come up with more funds.”
The bulk of the cost would come from labor — from surveying to installation. Volunteers from Elkhorn Valley Wind Farm, as well as playground equipment installation professionals from the Oregon Recreation & Park Association and workers with the La Grande Parks & Recreation Department helped alleviate that cost, leaving the funds for purchasing expensive playground equipment.
“A lot of hands came together to help us today,” Marston said.