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September 30. 2012 11:46PM

Pittsburg pulls together for playground

PITTSBURG — The current playground at Pittsburg School consists of a 17-year-old wooden structure used only by kindergarten and first-grade students because of its size and style. Second- through sixth-graders — approximately 40 students — play around the soccer field.

“Nothing is made available for these kids to play on except snow banks in the winter and a cluster of rock boulders in the fall,” the playground committee wrote in grant applications.

That will change Oct. 6, when community volunteers gather at the school to install new playground equipment.

In 2009, Glenn Carlson, father of three, came to then-school board member Stephanie Lassonde with the idea of adding to the existing playground.

“Pittsburg is a small, close-knit community of many families that have remained in the area for generations,” Lassonde said. “The community is also uniquely interwoven with people from all walks of life who, for reasons that are often filled with a passion for the area, have relocated to Pittsburg.”

The Pittsburg Playground Committee was formed with Lassonde as chairperson. Second-grade teacher Dee Young surveyed students on their ideal playground, and committee members approached individuals and businesses for support, along with placing donation cans throughout town.

The project also received funding from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, The Tillotson North Country Foundation, and TransCanada.

Local contractors and the police and fire departments helped with on-site consultations; school board officials and town selectmen provided support for the project.

It will all come together on Oct. 6, with a community day of work complete with donated bag lunches, Crock Pot meals and side dishes.

“We need at least 14 to 17 people, but I am expecting at least 30,” Lassonde said.

The new play set will have a capacity of 71, more than enough for the school’s approximately 52 students, and will include a two-bay, four-seat swing set.

Concrete pouring and landscaping work will be done shortly after the construction; a ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held in the spring.

“With a predominantly aging population, Pittsburg has seen their students shrink in numbers, though not in importance,” said Lassonde. “I don’t think I am at all alone when I say that a strong school is the foundation for a strong community.”

To provide that foundation even with shrinking enrollment, Pittsburg is one of 10 northern Vermont and New Hampshire towns exploring the idea of regionalizing their school systems.

They recently joined with nearby Canaan, Vt., for school athletic programs and to provide other playground opportunities for children.

“The Canaan recreation committee has contacted me about our project because they would like to do something similar at their Town Park,” Lassonde said.

“Also, I’ve promised Brendon (McKeage, Pittsburg town selectman) that when this is finished, I’ll help him with his work on improving the facilities for children at Pittsburg’s town common.”

kgarofalo@newstote.com


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