Submitted photo Pictured is the playground equipment that a grass-roots effort headed by local residents plan to purchase to replace the old equipment at Centerburg’s Memorial Park. It was designed by Miracle Midwest, a full service park and playground consulting, layout design and manufactures’ representative firm, and is planned to be installed by the Spring of 2021.
Submitted photo
Pictured is the playground equipment that a grass-roots effort headed by local residents plan to purchase to replace the old equipment at Centerburg’s Memorial Park. It was designed by Miracle Midwest, a full service park and playground consulting, layout design and manufactures’ representative firm, and is planned to be installed by the Spring of 2021.

CENTERBURG — Two local women are combining their backgrounds and interests to help raise the money needed to replace old, worn out playground equipment at Centerburg Memorial Park.

Kara Staats and Adriene Mowry are both stay at home mothers in Centerburg, raising 5 and 3 kids respectively, and often take their kids to the park. Staats has a background in business and Mowry has a background in finance, both of which come in handy when putting together a fundraiser.

“The playground in Centerburg seems to be a sore subject for a lot of residents,” Staats said. It often comes up in conversations, especially on the local Centerburg Facebook page. She said ideas have been thrown around in the past but she thinks that the problem was people didn’t know where to start with such a big project.

The playground equipment is decades old, making some people take their kids to other playgrounds in other towns.

“This is unfortunate since the park itself and the walking trail is so nice here,” Staats said. “The park is great for events like the Oldtime Farming Festival and Heart of Ohio Festival but the playground itself is pretty sad.”

Staats and Mowry decided to team up this past summer to figure out how to raise the funds needed to get new playground equipment. Both are officers with the Centerburg Elementary PTO and have helped run fundraisers in the past but not on such of a big scale.

“The first step was to see if we could get permission from Hilliar township,” Staats said, noting that without the township support a fundraiser wouldn’t matter. “(Mowry) and I attended a township meeting in June and talked to them about our intentions.”

The township was supportive of the idea since they didn’t have the budget to get new equipment for the park. The township, Staats mentioned, was willing to pursue grants through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources using the funds Staats and Mowry were able to raise but that would be the extent of the township’s involvement.

With having the go-ahead from the township, Staats and Mowry knew what fundraiser they wanted to start with.

“Our plan from the beginning was a cash raffle,” Staats said. “It has been successful for other organizations.”

Mowry’s sister did a similar fundraiser and they reached out to her for ideas. After doing research, they determined that they needed to team up with a registered nonprofit organization. The pair reached out to Centerburg Lion’s Club, whose whole purpose is improving the community.

“We felt like it was a perfect fit,” Staats said about the club. “We attended one of their monthly meetings and they too were supportive.”

The Lion’s Club suggested they reach out to the Knox County Foundation and Marc Odenweller, financial director at the foundation. They were able to set up a Friends of the Memorial Park in Centerburg fund through the foundation to accept donations. Any the funds they raise goes into a fund controlled by the Lion’s Club. Staats said Odenweller was helpful for them in the process and they feel like he is on their side.

They know that raising enough money to purchase all-inclusive playground equipment is no small task and will take time.

“With our current timeline, we are looking at installation by Spring of 2021. Our overall goal is $100,000,” she said.
They reached out and received a design from Miracle Midwest, a full service park and playground consulting, layout design and manufactures’s representative firm. The design would replace the old equipment. When the time comes to install it, Miracle Midwest, according to Staats, will send out a project manager to oversee the installation done by volunteers from the community.

Currently, Staats and Mowry are selling the cash raffle tickets and have created the Facebook page Centerburg Friends of Memorial Park.

The cash raffle is the first of many needed to raise the money to meet the goal. The next big fundraiser, according to Staats, will be a touch-a-truck event in the spring.

“We have a long road ahead of us, but I think we are ready for the challenge,” she said.

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Jamie Holland: 740-397-5333 or jamie@mountvernonnews.com and on Twitter, @