Daycare eyes new playground

Laurel Street preschool center receives grant to help with costs

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Laurel Street's Alden Wade looked like he is ready to do his part to help build a new playground at his School. Wade will not actually be doing the work, but thanks to a grant, the students will be getting a new playground soon.

— Swings, slides and a seesaw in the shape of a cat are just three of the wishes for the Laurel Street School and Family Center's new playground.

"I want a pole we slide down," Phil Andress, 5, said Wednesday.

Everyone liked the idea of having a fireman's pole, but there was disagreement about its color.

Mariam Worster and Samantha Marten want pink. Phil doesn't.

"I want gold," he said.

Laurel Street recently received a $10,000 matching grant from the Temple Hoyne Buell Foundation, which means whatever Laurel Street can raise locally, Temple Buell will match that amount dollar for dollar up to $10,000.

"I am thrilled," said Jeanne Whiddon, chairwoman of Laurel Street's board of directors. "Every penny we earn is another penny we can get from them. We would definitely like to raise $10,000."

The preschool and childcare center already has secured $5,000 from another grant. Other donations include one from the local El Pomar Youth in Community Service group, an in-kind donation from a playground company, and donations from families whose children attend the school. The fundraising deadline is March 15.

"We would like to start as soon as possible in the spring - as soon as we get the snow out of there," Whiddon said. "We are hoping to have it assembled and put together on a weekend."

The school's existing playground is old and made of wood. Whiddon remembers the structure being in place when her son Clay, now 19, went to Laurel Street.

"We are looking for a playground that is durable," Whiddon said. "The most important thing is safety. We are looking to purchase and assemble one of the newest types of structures with bright colors. It is a little bittersweet because we will miss our structure."

On Wednesday, some of Laurel Street's youngest students climbed on ropes and waddled through the snow in their puffy coats and thick snow pants.

Three-year-olds Alden Wade and Ethan Spence were more interested in talking about their Christmas presents than a new playground, but the older students at Laurel Street had a long list of items they want in a new playground.

"I want a cat seesaw," Mariam said.

"I want more swings," Samantha said.

"I want sleds," Ceder Turek said.

"I want a slide," Kirra Kusy said.

Whiddon said the teachers are just as excited, and they hope Steamboat's generosity continues into the New Year. Whiddon thinks a new playground structure will cost about $20,000.

Laurel Street, which is across the street from Soda Creek Elementary School in Old Town, cares for almost 50 local children.

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