After a brief assembly and ribbon cutting, Evergreen Elementary School students rushed onto their new playground. Excitedly climbing onto the structures and down the open spiral slides, the students tried out their new playground for the first time.

While the students have been waiting, the school district, staff, and members of the community have been working hard the past few years to make the new playground a reality. Diane Obrien is on the Advisory Board for Evergreen Elementary School, and she helped in the campaigning process for the new playground project. She says this time last year the group was busy at work developing funding for the project.

"We spent a lot of our days and evenings on this project and to see it come to fruition in less than a year is fantastic,” she says.

Evergreen Elementary School Principal Therese Ashton says along with community support, the students did their part to raise money for the new playground by collecting box tops, which she says then led to state grant funding and the vote of the Wrangell community that ultimately brought the project together.

“After watching the opening of the playground to the elementary school students today, it was gratifying to see how much they appreciate it. It really is Wrangell’s playground,” she says.

“This is a great day; it was great to see the kids out here.” That’s City of Wrangell Project Manager Amber Al-Haddad. Al-Haddad and the public works department have been preparing designs since last December for the new playground facility. She says she expects the $1.1 million play structure to last the next 25 to 30 years.

“We started off with a playground that was settling with pooling water and ice in the winter, and with playground equipment that was 25 to 30 years old. Now we have a site with new asphalt, new drainage, and new state of the art equipment,” she says.

Johnson Construction was in charge of building the playground, and many locals were hired to do the construction on the facility over the past 3 months. Mike Symons was one of those workers and he says a lot went into the construction and the lead up to the ribbon cutting ceremony.

“The playground equipment is the icing on the cake; there was a lot of infrastructure work done on this project including handrails, new decks, a covered structure, five new basketball courts, and the overall safety factor,” he says.

Jerry Buethe is the construction superintendent of the project and he says he credits his team of local workers for the job well done and ability to have the project completed on time. Principal Therese Ashton also thanks everyone who contributed to playground project.
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