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Work begins on Bethel playground

There were people of all ages and neighborhoods and stations oflife working with shovels and hammers and tape measures Monday inthe space that will be the new Bethel Park, a project designed tobring a recreational green space to Ward Three.

Workers from area businesses such as State Bank and Wal-MartDistribution and Transportation joined people from the neighborhoodin the beginning stages of putting up the soon-to-becommunity-built recreational area on Smith Street. RecreationDepartment Director Terry Reid said he’s very happy with theturnout for the first day.

“We’ve had a great turnout so far, and we’ve gotten a lot done,”Reid said Monday afternoon. “Tomorrow we’ll pour the concrete andit’ll start actually going up.”

Reid said Mississippi Development Authority officials had toldhim the city would need 60 volunteers in order to receive a grantrequired to build the park. He said by the end of a support rallyin June, 190 people had filled out volunteer forms.

But still city officials kept up the encouragement in order tomake sure those who filled out the forms would remember to come outto do the work.

The $100,000 project requires a manpower match. Reid said thecity needs to supply roughly $30,000 in in-kind services, suchvolunteer work and material donations.

Ward Three resident David Williams, who has children ages 17 and13, said the neighborhood has long been in need of a place forchildren to safely gather after school.

“I just wanted to be here to help, because this will be givingthe kids something they can do after school,” he said. “I’ll becoming back this week as I can work it into my schedule.”

Wal-Mart Training Manager Rob Barnes said several Wal-Martemployees have signed up to go work at the park throughout the weekbecause many of them are residents of the Bethel Park area. Butmore importantly, they want to give back to the community.

“Wal-Mart is part of this community,” he said. “We want to begood neighbors, and a lot of our associates and managers live overhere. We’ll have a few people out here every day, I’m prettysure.”

State Bank employees Geralyn Russell and Lindsay Woodrow heldpieces of a blue metal bench as they tried to figure out how tobest put it together. Woodrow said several of their co-workersdecided to get involved in the project because it was a way toreturn the community’s investment.

“Everybody’s really excited and ready to participate and helpout here,” Woodrow said.

Russell agreed, adding that it’s a good project for people withjobs that keep them at a desk all day.

“We usually have to help people inside all day,” she said. “It’sgood to be able to put that to use outside when the weather isnice.”

Construction will continue throughout the week, officials said,and volunteers are welcome any day, even if they haven’t turned ininterest forms. Reid said anyone with questions can contact theBrookhaven Recreation Department at 601-833-3791.