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Hometown Strong funding benefits splash pad, other projects

Originally planned to open the weekend of July 4, 2021, Russellville’s splash pad construction has seen its share of setbacks; however, the city council reported during its Feb. 7 meeting that an additional funding donation will expedite finishing the project.

Being constructed by Great Southern Recreation, the splash pad will be located between John Blackwell Sports Complex and Sloss Lake on Highway 24.

“We’ve had delays due to prolonged periods of rain and issues with parts availability,” explained Russellville Mayor David Grissom. “The city had some money set aside for the project to begin with, and once Pilgrim’s Pride committed to its original donation of $309,000, this greatly increased what we were able to envision for the scope of the final project, and that required additional planning.”

As with many construction projects, the cost of completion is exceeding original projections.

“It will be more than $450,000 in the end,” explained Grissom. “I can’t give an exact number because we haven’t paid the bill yet, but fencing and drainage work has to be done. Leisure Creations is making benches and other seating areas, including lounge chairs.”

When Pilgrim’s Pride called Grissom several weeks ago to ask if there were any city projects that might benefit from its Hometown Strong funding, he explained about the splash pad project cost exceeding projections.

“Pilgrim’s has allocated an additional donation of $75,000 to the splash pad project by means of its Hometown Strong funding program,” explained Grissom. “This will expedite finishing what’s required to complete the project.”

The additional funds, along with Pilgrim’s initial donation of $309,000, brings Pilgrim’s total investment in the project to $384,000.

City building license inspector Bill Fuller explained additional factors involved in wrapping up the project. “The splash pad is complete as far as equipment, but there’s drainage work to be done, including a retainer wall, as well as fencing to be put up, sod to put down and some additional site work, including mounting benches.”

Grissom said although it’s taken a while to get here, he believes the wait will be worth it. “The fencing is on order and has to be installed, and there’s the drainage work and seating and other finishing and cleanup work, as well as inspection.

“The splash pad is a special project, and we want it to be done right. I think it’s something everyone will be proud of once they see it finished.”

While the opening date hasn’t been set yet, Grissom and Fuller reported expectations of opening this spring. “It’s going to have a lot of nice features,” Grissom said. “Pilgrim’s Hometown Strong funding has made it possible for our city to build a splash pad for our children and families to enjoy.

“We couldn’t have done this without Pilgrim’s great generosity, and we thank them for the investments they have made to improve the lives of those in our community,” Grissom added. “It’s been our dream since 2008, and with Pilgrim’s funding, our dream will soon come to fruition. We appreciate Pilgrim’s for their interest in our city and the betterment of the lives of our community members.”

Pilgrim’s recently announced a $580,000 investment in the community and has since worked closely with local leaders to identify where the funds can best help meet immediate and longer-term community needs.

Pilgrim’s Russellville has also allocated Hometown Strong funding to the following area projects:

  • Russellville City Schools received $71,000 to build two pavilions that will serve as outdoor classroom space, as well as provide a place for students to eat outside.
  • $22,000 will be used to purchase high jump and pole vault equipment for the Russellville High School Track and Field team, allowing regional track meets to be held at the high school.
  • $50,000 will fully fund the installation of a shaded playground structure on an undeveloped lot in Sheffield.
  • The Town of Falkville received $42,600 to update a playground, including replacing wood chips with a rubberized “Pour and Play” surface. This project was completed in 2021.

Russellville Middle School Principal Tony Bonds expressed enthusiasm for RCS’ outdoor space. “We’re thankful to be getting an outdoor pavilion, and we hope it will be enjoyed by our students and staff for activities including classes, assemblies and even lunch.”

Bonds said the pavilion will help provide a higher level of value for students by equipping teachers with an open space to deliver instruction. “Many of our teachers will be able to use this area to expand on lessons from their classrooms,” he explained, “and that’s going to provide additional value and enjoyment for our students.”

“We appreciate the generosity and support of Pilgrim’s to upgrade the track facilities at Russellville High School,” added Dr. Heath Grimes, superintendent of Russellville City Schools. “With the addition of the pole vault pit, as well as upgrades to the shot and discus areas, our goal of bidding and hosting the Sectional Track Meet is closer than ever. Hosting the two-day meet will not only provide exposure to the great facilities of Russellville City Schools but will also provide a significant economic impact.”

“Pilgrim’s Hometown Strong projects are already making a positive impact here in the community,” said Jamie Young, Pilgrim’s Russellville complex manager. “Our hope is that this investment will serve the people of Russellville and surrounding communities for many years to come.”

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