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HELP WANTED at Bear Creek playground

Volunteers turned out in droves last weekend to help rebuild the playground at Medford’s Bear Creek Park. But the project could use more helpers, so Medford Parks and Recreation officials have issued a call to action.

Director Rich Rosenthal said about half of those who had signed up online or at the work site to help actually showed up.

For the project to meet its completion schedule of Saturday afternoon, Rosenthal said, more volunteers will be needed immediately, particularly for Thursday and Friday shifts.

Sign-ups showed work shifts — split into three time periods each day — boasted 80 to 200 volunteers throughout Saturday and Sunday. Later in the week, the numbers dropped to around 50 to 60 sign-ups, with a couple of dozen actual workers.

Construction began Sept. 29, and the city figured it would need about 200 volunteers each day for eight full days to finish the project on time.

“We’re grateful for the ones we have who are coming to work, and we’re eager to put the word out that we need more volunteers,” Rosenthal said.

Rosenthal scanned the worksite Tuesday as a zipline was gingerly moved between a small tree and a park bench.

Ten work-crew captains directed nearly four dozen volunteer helpers — from students to grandparents and parks department employees and architects from Leathers Playground.

Leathers, an international playground design firm, designed the original playground in 1988 with community input. It was built largely with donated labor and materials — similar to the current playground.

Those who did show up to help were focused on their tasks and filled with gratitude for being included Tuesday.

Cindy Fesmire, a Medford resident armed with a power grinder and a stack of Trex wood-composite pieces, added texture to create faux stones for use in the play structure.

“I grind them and make the stone texture, and then they get painted,” Fesmire said, noting that she has some experience from taking on home-remodeling projects with her husband. The couple are avid volunteers and couldn’t turn down the chance to help rebuild the popular playground, she said.

“I remember one year reading in the Mail Tribune that they were building this children’s park. When they started advertising for this new one, my husband decided to join. When I found out they didn’t have enough helpers, I decided this was a worthwhile thing to help with, too.”

Medford resident Tom Symon said it was a no-brainer for him to jump on board to help.

“It’s my off day, so I signed up for Sunday and today,” said Symon, who works at Home Depot, which is supporting the project with employee volunteers. Symon worked on framing, flooring and rafters in one area of the structure.

“It’s amazing to think that this will all be done this Saturday, this whole thing. I was probably too young when the first one was being built, but I played on it. When I heard they needed some help, I thought, ‘Yeah, sure, let’s do it.’”

Rosenthal said he was hopeful citizens would heed the call to action and help see the project to completion.

The project has raised $610,000 in cash and in-kind donations of materials and services.

Rosenthal said the goal now is to get the playground built on time.

“Today, we’re pretty fortunate,” Rosenthal said Tuesday.

“Thursday, we’ve got a big problem. As of now, from what I’ve been told, we’re still on schedule. If we don’t have enough volunteers, our pace could slow. This week, our parks are not being maintained, essentially, because this is a high priority. This has to be done by Saturday afternoon.”

For more information on how to help, see the city website at www.ci.medford.or.us.

Reach freelance writer Buffy Pollock at buffyp76@yahoo.com.


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