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East End Inclusive Park opens

Edison Hatter

(6/19) On June 17, during an overcast Saturday morning, the town of Thurmont held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new East End Inclusive Park. The ceremony was originally scheduled for May 13, but was postponed until June as a result of heavy rains. Despite the new date, a crowd of a few dozen members of the community turned out to witness the ceremony.

The park has become one of the first "inclusive playgrounds" in Frederick County. Jeff Barber, of Playground Specialists, Inc., explained that all of the equipment in the park has been built at transfer height, providing the ease of transferring children in a wheelchair onto the play equipment. However, the equipment is not just for children with disabilities, all children can enjoy the playground. Frederick County Commissioner, Jan Gardner, even enjoyed playing on a glider before the ceremony began. Barber assured the crowd that by the end of the project, the park will be "one of the coolest playgrounds for all kids in all of Frederick County."

Other dignitaries offered a few words during the ceremony as well. Gardner told the crowd that the park "means a lot to a lot of children." She also shared a personal story about her daughter, a physical therapist, who has worked with children with disabilities and understands how difficult it is for them to play on a regular playground. Gardner concluded her portion of the ceremony by offering the town of Thurmont a certificate of recognition, which was accepted by Ginger Malone, Catoctin Area Civitan President. Malone gave a few words to the group, saying that the project was "a wonderful team effort." Julie DeRoner of the Frederick County Developmental Center read a letter from the Developmental Center that said in part, "Thanks to your hard work, all kids will now be able to enjoy playgrounds." Other officials in attendance included Roger Wilson, Government Affairs and Public Policy Director for Frederick County, Thurmont Town Commissioners Wayne Hooper, Wes Hamrick, and Marty Burns, and Mary Del Favaro, Catoctin Area Civitan Club Secretary.

From an economic standpoint, the East End Inclusive Park project is a major endeavor. Part I of the project, which is now completed, cost approximately $70,000, but was covered by two grants received by the town. Parts II and III of the project will cost an estimated $200,000. Thurmont Mayor, John Kinnaird, proudly told the crowd that funds for Phase II have already been secured. "Soon," he said, "we will be here again to celebrate the completion of Phase II of this great project."

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