Parents pitch in for Mount Airy playground


January 18, 2002|By Lesa Jansen | Lesa Jansen,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

THE FIRST PHASE of a playground for pupils at Mount Airy Elementary School could begin construction in the next several months.

"We are putting the first phase of our project out to bid, and we're excited to break ground as soon as possible," said Lucy Burnett, chairwoman of the Mount Airy Playground Committee.

Burnett and other parents formed the committee to raise funds when Carroll County public school administrators said they would not be able to finance new equipment.

"We understand that academic needs come first. With the rapid growth in our area, the schools had no money left over for playgrounds," Burnett said. "But we also felt strongly that the physical and social needs of the children also be met."

Playground equipment at the school is more than 40 years old and not accessible to the disabled. Phase One of the playground will replace the intermediate equipment designed for third- through fifth-graders.

"We want to stress that this is only the first phase of our playground. To meet the needs of all of our children, we will continue to raise funds to meet our ultimate goal of $50,000," Burnett said.

The committee has raised $22,000. Pupils participating in a school "Fun Run" raised most of the money. Corporate sponsors such as Carroll County General Hospital, BB&T Bank of Mount Airy, Farmers and Mechanics Bank, Wal-Mart and others have contributed.

Carroll County Department of Recreation recently awarded a grant of $7,500 for the project, bringing the total to $29,500.

"We have found sticker shock when it comes to the cost of the equipment," Burnett said. "Only about 50 percent of our budget will go toward the cost of the equipment itself. At least 30 percent of the cost is for installation and 20 percent for ground preparation.

"But we also understand these costs are required and will impact the safety."

The committee has formed an informal network with other Carroll County schools raising funds for playgrounds.

Linton Springs Elementary, Hampstead Elementary and Spring Garden Elementary have parent-driven efforts under way to finance new equipment.

The Mount Airy Playground Committee is accepting tax-deductible contributions.

The address is Mount Airy Playground Fund, P.O. Box 688, Mount Airy 21771.

Boy Scout uniforms

The cost of being a well-dressed Boy Scout has risen in recent years to $60 for a complete uniform. Now, the 40 troops that make up the Boy Scouts of America in Carroll County are helping parents offset the cost.

"We don't want to limit boys who want to join because of the cost of the uniform," said Bill Blonkowski, assistant scoutmaster of Troop 460.

Blonkowski and a team of Scouts from Mount Airy are collecting, cleaning, storing and redistributing used Boy Scout uniforms.

Blonkowski presented the plan to the leaders of Carroll County's 40 troops at the Carroll District Round Table this month.

The Scouts hope to begin a mass mailing to former Scouts in the area to ask for uniform donations.

Information: Bill Blonkowski, 301-831-5803, 410-552-1982 or e- mail Wblonkowski@Andersen

Birdseed sale

The Mount Airy chapter of the Audubon Society of Central Maryland has launched its biannual sale of birdseed.

The proceeds from the fund-raiser support the group's Aubrey Carroll Wildlife Sanctuary in Mount Airy and educational programs.

"We usually sell about 10,000 pounds of seed that fills a semitrailer," said Bob Maroney, Audubon Society member. "With the plant life dying off, birds have a more narrow range of food sources and this can really help."

Orders may be picked up Feb. 2 at Prospect United Methodist Church in Mount Airy.

Information: Carolyn Maroney, 301-831-5060.

Lesa Jansen's Southwest neighborhood column appears each Friday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

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