Work starts at Kershaw park

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By Johnathan Ryan

KERSHAW – In nearly 100 degree heat on Tuesday, volunteers came together to start construction of a playground in Kershaw.

The project is called the Haile Gold Mine Playground because of the recent $50,000 donation from Romarco Minerals Inc. Romarco Minerals is redeveloping Haile Gold Mine. The 6,000-square-foot playground should be completed by Saturday, in time for a public ribbon cutting at 6 p.m.

"That will be the first opportunity for the children of this community and surrounding ones to come play here," said a proud Beverly Timmons, chairwoman of the Kershaw Community Park Council.

Timmons and her friend Carolyn Anderson, who was on site at Stevens Park on Tuesday, spearheaded the effort which has gotten overwhelming community support.

More than 150 volunteers were on site Tuesday to help.

Many were cutting wood and building the outer structure of the customized playground, designed by Leathers and Associates.

The volunteers started at 7 a.m. and planned to work until sundown, working with tools on loan. Many plan to continue to work until Saturday.

"We have more wood than what would be used to build a normal house," Anderson said.

Businesses such as Duke Energy and Springs Memorial Hospital are supporting the effort, along with YouthServe, public schools in the southern portion of the county and many more groups and individuals. Local senior citizens served the workers breakfast and lunch Tuesday, as well as cold drinks to combat the sweltering heat.

YouthServe participant Josh Gamby, who was routing boards on Tuesday, said it was very hot. But he looks forward to children being able to use the playground and hopes others will learn from the volunteer effort and do the same for their communities.

"YouthServe is here in full force," Timmons said. "They also helped in the pre-build last week."

The finished product will be unlike any playground.

With a more than a $100,000 budget, it will resemble a mock town at the turn of the 19th century dotted with old Kershaw landmarks.

Children and their parents will enter and immediately see a building resembling the old Kershaw train depot, which is appropriate since that's what visitors first saw of the town so many years ago.

"It will resemble the history and culture of the town at the turn of the century," Timmons said. "It is a superbly designed playground."

Springs Cotton Mill, Haile Gold Mine, Kershaw Mercantile, Hanging Rock and more will be memorialized in the multi-level play complex. Inside and blended with the mini-structures will be the slides, swings, climbing nets, tunnels, a chin-up bar and a fire pole that children should enjoy for years to come.

"They'll be able to slide down, climb up, climb through and go over," Timmons said.

With the completion of the park, Timmons said the park council plan to revitalize Stevens Park, which the town of Kershaw owns but has allowed the park council to revitalize.

The council plans on having Clemson University design students do a master plan for the 17-acre site as part of a class project this fall.

"We'll recommend and direct the improvements (for the town)," Timmons said. "We want to bring new life to Stevens Park."

Romarco CEO Diane Garrett said Tuesday that the company wants to develop good relations with the Kershaw community.

"We will be there for 10 to 20 years and we want to be a part of the community," she said.

Timmons said the project needs more volunteers to work four-hour shifts between today and Saturday. Work starts at 7 a.m. each day and goes until sundown. For details, call Timmons at (803) 475-6767.

Contact reporter Johnathan Ryan at jryan@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 416-8416