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New playground a drawing point for Pembroke
Pembroke Mayor Pro Tem Johnnie Miller goes down a slide at the new playground in Pembroke during the playground's ribbon-cutting Tuesday. - photo by Brent Zell

Johnnie Miller estimated that he had not been on a slide in 60 years before this week.
But Pembroke’s mayor pro tem said it felt good to go down the slide on the city’s new playground, which had its ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday at the recreation complex on Lanier Street.

The new playground, which was completed before Christmas, has a two-level playground set with numerous climbing areas, a tunnel and, of course, slides. Mulch was laid down around the set the Monday before Christmas.

“It’s really a state-of-the-art playground for our city,” Mayor Mary Warnell said.

Naturally, with a new playground available right at the start of the holiday break from school, the set had already been well-used before the ribbon-cutting. Pembroke Recreation Director Mandy Toole said kids were using the playground the afternoon after it was completed.

“It’s been very busy,” she said.

The playground’s price tag was an estimated $60,000. A huge part of it was paid for with a State Farm Neighborhood Assist grant for $25,000. Pembroke was one of 40 cities nationwide to receive grants through the program. The city was named one of the winners through an online-voting contest in which Pembroke’s project received more than 86,000 votes.

Other contributors to the project included Jean McCormick, $10,000; PAC, $5,000; First Bank of Coastal Georgia, $2,500; and Burnsed Body Shop, $100. The remaining $10,000 came from recreation funding.

Miller said the project had been ongoing for about 2½ years as an effort to replace the playground’s previous equipment, which was removed for safety concerns. That led to the playground being shut down in 2014.

“Our old playground was dilapidated and out of date and falling apart and everything,” Miller said. “This is highly needed for this community.”
Toole said there are many children living within walking distance of the playground who had nothing to do when the old playground equipment was taken away. Also, she said, the city has a summer lunch program that brings a lot of children there who now will have a place to play.

The playground sits near a skate park, basketball court and baseball diamond.

Warnell said the city had tried to get a recreation grant for tennis courts after the previous ones developed cracks in the foundations.

The cost for a new court would have been about $60,000, she said. One of the courts was converted into the skate park. The grant application also included plans for parking around the diamond.

However, the grant was turned down, so those plans went on the back burner, Toole said. Miller said the city plans to see what funding is out there for new recreation projects, including walking and biking trails.

“Recreation plays a big part in the community,” he said.

The new playground stands to help the community’s recreation offerings. Toole called the playground a drawing factor.

“When they come, they see we have other things and that, hopefully, will help our other programs as well,” she said.

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