The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Letter  to Editor

I appreciate the Oquawka Village Board trustees for their time and consideration of a funding opportunity that could provide a much needed safe and accessible playground for Oquawka families.

The funding opportunity is offered through the Illinois Park and Recreation Construction (PARC) grant program which is administered by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to governmental entries that believe their residents have a right to enjoy recreation opportunities safely and locally.  

DNR states that the investments made through PARC funds are vital to the economies and health of local communities and their residents and will pay long-term dividends for Illinois communities.

The PARC grant seemed a way to support the Oquawka Board s community development efforts without a significant financial expenditure. Funding is on a 75% state/25% local match and reimbursement basis. Competition for the grant funding is extremely high.

The proposed Oquawka Boy Scout Playground which Jarid Guyton designed includes the design and construction of a commercial playground in the park near the shelter house and swimming pool.

The playground will include swings, slides and other appropriate equipment including a rubberized ground covering and will be handicapped accessible and will feature several custom designed elements depicting several Oquawka and area historical elements.

The playground, the project of Jarid Guyton for his Eagle Scout designation, will cost $76,693.

At the February Village Board meeting, I requested that the board consider supporting the project through commitment of $57,520 which would be reimbursed to the village by the DNR within 30-45 days of reimbursement request. The 25% local match ($19,173) would be covered through contributions and the proceeds of fundraising events that Jarid has initiated. The $57,520 would only be needed IF the village receives the grant.

I did not ask the board to  pay for the grant. Grants are awarded. Nor did I ask them to co-sign a loan for the project. If the grant is not  awarded then no financial transaction would happen.

At the time Jarid chose this as his Eagle Scout project there were a lot of people who expressed interest in wanting a playground and were willing to help. And thankfully, they still are. Contributions and fundraising efforts have resulted in approximately $12,000 raised to date.

We hope you will continue to encourage and support Jarid with his project and attend his upcoming fundraisers: Trivia Night /Chicken Noodle Dinner on March 1st at the Oquawka Eagles Club, Dinner/Show with Junior Talley as ELVIS on April 4th at the VFW in Monmouth, Jungle Gym Jam Fest on May 3rd at the Museum lawn and the Softball Tourney on June 7th at the Oquawka Ballpark .

The Boy Scout Playground Project is a WIN-WIN-WIN. The village would have the opportunity to provide a service to Oquawka families and make Oquawka an even more attractive place to live.

Oquawka families would have a much needed safe and accessible play area. And the village would be confirming its commitment to its younger residents and families by supporting an excellent project by one of its future leaders.

Again, I appreciate the Village Board for its consideration and to the community for its continued support. My apologies for any misunderstanding.