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Workers swarming at giant KitsapKids building site

Master At Arms First Class Petty Officer John Hurell, left, and Ensign Mark Smigelski, of the USS Carl Vinson, were just two of many local military personnel who helped at the site of the giant KitsapKids Playground project this week being built near the Kitsap County Fairgrounds. - Rogerick Anas/staff photo
Master At Arms First Class Petty Officer John Hurell, left, and Ensign Mark Smigelski, of the USS Carl Vinson, were just two of many local military personnel who helped at the site of the giant KitsapKids Playground project this week being built near the Kitsap County Fairgrounds.
— image credit: Rogerick Anas/staff photo

As KitsapKids’ playground coordinators and volunteer builders get closer and closer to the deadline — June 2, 6 p.m., ribbon cutting — the excitement mounts.

You could hear it in the voices of just about anyone at the site — Stampede Boulevard and Fairgrounds Road. Everyone talked fast and loud.

“We prepped for about a month — felling trees and grading,” said Burt Montgomery, who works maintenance for the Kitsap County Fairgrounds.

Brian Hauschel, supervisor for the Fairgrounds with County Parks & Recreation, said “Volunteers are working four-hour shifts — and we had 3,025 shifts to fill.”

Many volunteers are working more than one shift and more than one day, said organizers. Which means the total number of volunteers may not, in fact, exceed 3,000.

But there was no doubting the enthusiasm of the 200 volunteers present at the site at any given time.

Richard Linn, a Gunner’s Mate on the USS Camden, said he and many sailors decided to come and participate. He was operating a chain saw just before being interviewed.

“When this is done,” he said wiping his brow, “you got something to show for it.”

Rick Hughes of United Rentals was whizzing back and forth in his giant fork lift, carrying tons of finished logs for the project. No one seemed to have any problem hearing him coming and getting out of the way. The volunteers had formed teams and the whole operation ran like a Swiss watch.

“If anyone else wants to volunteer, call 337-7939 — or just show up,” yelled one of the supervisors, Judith Rammel, over the din.

She and other coordinators of the project are employees at Denobi, a software company.

“But if you want to volunteer,” she added, “remember to bring work gloves, safety glasses and ear plugs,” she said. “Everyone seems to be having a great time.”

When interviewed Friday, chief site supervisor Paulette DeGard, also a Denobi employee, said “things are moving along” on schedule. She added that a “huge” group of (about 60) kids from Olympic High School’s shop class just showed up, plus another 35 from Pine Crest Elementary.

She added that although the kids were appreciated, they really needed more adults.

Jamie Acker, OHS “material science and technology” class instructor, said his students were on hand “shoveling, nailing and doing a variety of tasks.”

Brianne Anderson, 16, a junior at OHS, commented “It’s a good community project. It brings the community together — and it’s fun.

“In the future, we’ll be able to tell our kids we built this park,” she said.

Around 14,000 square feet in size (220 feet long by 70 feet wide) with probably closer to 2,000 volunteers building it in 12-hour days, the playground is to be built between Tuesday, May 28, and Sunday, June 2, by KitsapKids, the local chapter of a national program.

Unlike other playgrounds, KitsapKids was designed by the children who will use it. Designing began in October of last year.

Contractor Leathers and Associates travel around the country helping to design and build the playgrounds on a fast-track schedule — to save time and money.

“If you will build it, we will come,” is Leathers’ motto, said DeGard.

The playground is expected to cost $250,000 in donated cash, materials and labor, she said. Organizers have collected most of what’s needed.

Fifty-six companies have chipped in cash, materials, services or labor. Only nine out of a total of 75 contributors are are private citizens or couples. The rest are non-profit clubs and organizations.

Although small in number, non-profit clubs are playing a big role. The project is heavily sponsored by area Rotary.

The playground will include such things as swings, slides, a sand box for tots, an obstacle course, jungle gym, miniature castle with turrets and a treehouse — the last two to be lifted in place with a crane 7:30 a.m. Sunday.

Cash is still needed. Send checks to KItsapKids, Post Office Box 2325, Silverdale WA 98383. The Web site is kitsapkids.org.

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