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Russellville Splash Pad grand opening celebrates summer fun

Memorial Day weekend got going with a lot of splashing this year as the long-awaited Russellville Splash Pad, located between the John Blackwell Sports Complex and Sloss Lake on Highway 24, celebrated its grand opening May 27.

Great Southern Recreation built the splash pad.

Russellville Mayor David Grissom, along with Councilman Gary Cummings and Councilman Jamie Harris, explained it’s a project they’ve wanted to see happen ever since they were elected to public office.

“It’s a great day in the city of Russellville,” said Grissom. “We started talking about a splash pad in 2008. It’s something we have wanted for our kids for a long time.”

Originally projected to open July 4, 2021, the project has seen its share of setbacks. Grissom cited weather and supply-chain issues as contributing factors, as well as the need for time to revise the scope of the project after receiving the last donation from Pilgrim’s.

Grissom explained that donations from Pilgrim’s Russellville have been critical to realizing the dream of bringing a splash pad to the city. With an initial donation of $309,000 and a more recent additional sum of $75,000, Pilgrim’s contributed $384,000 total toward the project, total cost of which was $481,000.

The splash pad contains a number of features to make it enjoyable, include a contraption with a large baseball bowl at the top that slowly fills with water and then dumps it quickly onto whoever might be below. Grissom, along with Russellville Pilgrim’s complex manager Jamie Young and Russellville City Schools superintendent Dr. Heath Grimes, along with Landon Ray Presley, decided to try out the feature, which resulted in quite a big splash as the contents were dumped onto them.

The Pilgrim’s logo, along with a chicken statue, feature prominently on the splash pad. Grissom noted the chicken’s name is Fabio, in honor of the chief financial officer at Pilgrim’s who approved the project and who is now the chief executive officer.

“Until we got the call from Kevin Touchstone, who was the complex manager at Pilgrim’s at the time, we hadn’t been able to find the funding,” Grissom said. “He called and told us about the Hometown Strong initiative and asked about possible projects in Russellville that would help the community.”

Grissom said since a lot of work had already been done toward planning the project, they were able to get information to Pilgrim’s within the hour.

“This is our biggest Hometown Strong project so far,” explained Young. “We’re proud to be able to make it possible to provide a splash pad for all the community to enjoy.”

Grissom said he’d like to thank Chris Williams of Russellville’s Leisure Creations. The company made and donated all of the seating, other furniture and garbage cans – to the tune of around $10,000.

“This has certainly been a team effort. It’s just another example of what can happen when everybody works together, and it shows how teamwork can make it possible to have nice things for our children,” Grissom added.

Cummings said the splash pad is something they have prayed for. “You just never know how it’s going to work out,” Cummings said. “It’s worked out good for us. I’m just glad to see our kids have this. It’s something we’ve always wanted and never could afford otherwise.”

Harris agreed, noting the project was “truly a team effort.” “This shows the kinds of things we can do when we all work together. The splash pad is an asset for our community.”

He explained thanks go to a number of people who helped make it all happen.

“I want to thank Pilgrim’s, because without the money they donated, we wouldn’t have been able to do this,” Harris reiterated. “I’d also like to thank Donnie Flanagan with Parks and Rec, the director of the splash pad; Chief Joe Mansell in the Russellville Fire Department; and Shannon Wilson in the street department. I’d also like to thank Bill Fuller with the Building Licensing Department as well as Chris Williams with Leisure Creations.”

A number of children attended the grand opening, rushing to test out all the splash pad features before and after the official turning on of the water.

What’s the best part? For Landon Ray Presley, it’s a question answered easily. “I like how the water dumps on you, and you run in it, and you get soaking wet.” His grandmother, Symantha Presley, expressed her gratitude for the new community feature. “I just want to thank everybody who did this for our kids and to say how much I appreciate it,” she said. “I’m from Rockwood, and we don’t have anything like this for the children to do there.”

Splash pad regular hours of operation are Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. There is no charge for admission. Splash pad rental is $50. To schedule a rental or for other information, call 256-332-8770.

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