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Rotary Club of Springfield Southeast dedicates shade structure in Jordan Valley Park

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Jordan Valley Park now has several new features funded by the Rotary Club of Springfield Southeast. The club has raised more than $100,000 to improve Jordan Valley Park as well as other locations.

Rotary Club of Springfield Southeast has dedicated a new shade sail structure and picnic tables Thursday,  at Jordan Valley Park, 635 E. Trafficway, in downtown Springfield.

The shaded picnic area is in the K-Park section of the park, an area that also includes the K-Man kinetic sculpture, the climbing rock and the Springfield Wagon play feature, all funded entirely through donations now totaling more than $100,000 from Southeast Rotary Club of Springfield.

Members of Rotary Club of Springfield Southeast were joined by flag-waving school children during the dedication of the Springfield Wagon play feature. The project recalls the Springfield Wago Co., which built fright wagons not far from the new park.

“We’re proud of our partnership with Rotary Club of Springfield Southeast, which has donated so many one-of-kind play features at Jordan Valley Park,” says Jeff Cumley, Superintendent of Jordan Valley Park. “When the kids aren’t playing in the fountain, they’re on these play features, and now parents and kids have a shady spot to eat lunch while at the park.”

The picnic tables are arranged in the shape of the Rotary logo. Tables, the underlying concrete pad and the shade sail are in Rotary colors of blue and yellow.

The dedication also includes the new Ted Andrews Memorial Bench, in honor of the late Rotarian who worked extensively on the shade sail project.

The bench was funded by his family.

This is the third dedication this spring of new construction in Springfield-Greene County Park Board facilities funded by private donation. The new Peace Through People Pavilion at Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park was funded by donations through Springfield Sister Cities Association and Friends of the Garden. The new Max Jahn Depot at the Railroad Historical Museum at Grant Beach Park was funded by donations through the Musgrave Foundation.

Rotary Club of Springfield Southeast and the Springfield-Greene County Park Board dedicated the new Springfield Wagon interactive play feature on June 14 in the K-Park portion of downtown Springfield’s Jordan Valley Park, near the intersection of East Trafficway and Sherman Avenue.

The Springfield Wagon interactive play feature resembles an 1880’s-era open-top wagon, with a wooden bed, wagon wheels, seat, break lever and tongue all molded out of fiber-reinforced concrete. The wagon is ADA-accessible and includes a ramp and a slide, and is surrounded by rubberized safety flooring.

The play feature was inspired by the Springfield Wagon Company, which built thousands of farm, freight, log, circus and other horse-drawn wagons in Springfield from 1872 to 1941. The wagons were painted a signature green and were nicknamed “Old Reliable.” The manufacturing plant was located one block north of what’s now Jordan Valley Park, on land now owned by Harry Cooper Supply Company.

The $50,000 wagon was designed and built by GameTime and was entirely funded by the Southeast Rotary, which also donated funds for the Kinetic “K-Man” and the Climbing Rock feature, all located in the K-Park kids’ play area of Jordan Valley Park.

Brent Baldwin, President of Rotary Club of Springfield Southeast, said development of K-Park has been a long-term commitment for the club since 2005, when it was identified as a service project to mark Rotary International’s 100th anniversary.

“Our Rotary club has focused on kids and making the community better for children,” says Baldwin. “Jordan Valley Park was a place where we wanted to make a lasting impact.”

Baldwin added that the park’s proximity to Springfield Wagon Company’s original location made the play feature an easy fit.

“We wanted to do more than just swing sets and jungle gyms in K-Park — we wanted it to have more meaning. The wagon was always a priority, based on the history of the company just down the hill.”

“This group has made a real impact in the park,” says Bob Belote, Springfield-Greene County Parks director. “The park is much cooler and more kid-friendly because of the K-Man, the Climbing Rock, and now, the Springfield Wagon, which highlights an important part of Springfield’s history. This makes history fun.”

George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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