Fremont Kiwanians are getting closer to their goal of putting playground equipment in Johnson Park.

The group is working hard to raise $150,000 for the new equipment.

At this point, the group has paid $91,436 for the equipment. The next part of the project involves raising funds for the EcoTurf — the surface on which the equipment will be placed.

That will cost just over $42,000.

“We have about half of that figure now,” said Don Cunningham, president-elect of the Fremont Kiwanis Club. “As of March 1, we know the installation cost will run around $53,000.”

The deadline for raising the rest of the project’s funds is fast approaching.

“We’ve got about $65,000 more to raise in order to reach the Memorial Day ribbon cutting,” Cunningham said.

Cunningham has appreciated the public’s big-hearted response to the project.

“People have been so generous,” Cunningham said. “We started fundraising the first week in December and we have raised over $120,000 so far. That’s really incredible.

“We want to report back to the community that this is where the project is and ask for any support.”

Two memorials were donated in honor of former Kiwanians Jim Moore and Diane Peterson. Moore was a retired president of First State Bank & Trust. Peterson had served as a senior vice president and chief financial officer.

Cunningham said donors may want to purchase a piece of playground equipment to memorialize a family member.

“We will recognize the donation at the park with permanent signage,” Cunningham said.

Launched in 2018, the equipment project is designed to provide a playground on the east side of the city — home to several schools and set for significant growth in the next few years.

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Kiwanis Club President Caryl Johannsen said the group worked with the city and the Friends of Fremont Parks to determine the location.

“It’s available to everyone and it could be another draw to attract people to come to Fremont,” Johannsen added.

The playground is designed for children ages 2 to 12.

It will be inclusive — meaning that children of all abilities will be able to use it. It will include features that children in wheelchairs will be able to access. A merry-go-round, which is low to the ground, will be accessible to all children.

“We think it’s important for everyone to play and grow together,” Johannsen said.

Park equipment installation is expected to take two days.

Dostal’s Construction Co., of Gretna will supervise the installation.

“We will use community members to do the bulk of the construction,” Cunningham said.

The “community build” effort is intended to reduce the project’s overall cost.

Drawings show brightly colored equipment that includes slides, covered areas, bridges and ramps. Children can walk up and play with some of the equipment’s interactive features. Johannsen said there are pieces with colors and activities that incorporate math.

Johannsen added that the playground also has a section for younger children ages 2 to 5.

The area will have a special surface that’s easy to walk and use a wheelchair on, Johannsen said. There also will be a small, cement path on which children can ride their bikes.

Donations, which are tax deductible, are still needed. To donate, go to the FACF website at:

facfoundation.org/splashstationplayground.html or send a check to: Stacy at Friends of the Fremont Area Parks, Playground Fund, First State Bank & Trust, 1005 E. 23 St., Fremont NE 68025. The check should be made out to “Friends of the Parks, Playground Fund” and write playground or Kiwanis or Splash Station on your check.

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News Editor

Tammy Real-McKeighan is news editor of the Fremont Tribune. She covers news, features, religion stories and writes the weekly faith-based, Spiritual Spinach column.

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