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Restaurant, school team up to build playground

By Staff
Tracy B. Cieniewicz, Hartselle Enquirer
A local business and school are teaming up to make playtime a fun time for every child.
David's Catfish Cabin on Indian Hills Road will host "F. E. Burleson Night" on Tuesday, May 25 from 4-8 p.m. There will be a choice of a fish or pork plate, drink and dessert for $8. A child's plate will be $5. All proceeds from meals, as well as tips and donations, will go to the new playground project at F. E. Burleson Elementary School.
"We're not known for underfeeding people, so you won't leave hungry," David Gray, owner of David's Catfish Cabin, promised.
According to Burleson Library Media Specialist Sue Hayes, the school's PTO and staff have worked hard this year to fund a new, fully accessible playground for use by all students.
"PTO members have sold wrapping paper and gift items, applied for grants and sought donations from businesses," Hayes explained. "Students and staff members have contributed as well."
Gray said he has set a personal goal to serve 1,000 meals during the event and hopes to raise $10,000 for the project.
"If the community gets behind us, I feel like we can meet this hefty goal," Gray said. "Meals will be made available for dine-in or carry-out to raise as many dollars as possible for them."
Gray said since F.E. Burleson is only a mile from his business and the project was so inspiring, he couldn't wait to get involved.
"I read about the playground and got really excited about the concept because it isn't strictly for special needs kids-it's for all kids to come together and play," Gray said. "I called up Sue Hayes and gave her four or five different ideas for fundraisers. She and the rest of the committee really liked the idea of waiting tables, so my staff will do all the cooking and 40 to 50 Burleson volunteers will have control of the front of the house."
Hayes said the volunteers are ready for the challenge.
"We would like to thank Mr. Gray for this idea and for his support for the project," Hayes said. "About $20,000 is needed to complete funding for the equipment. Then we would like to add chain link fence on two sides to prevent balls from rolling off school property."
The playground will include a kickball field and commercial quality play structures including four types of slides, a climbing hill, a fire pole, wavy bars, chinning bars, curly climber, and crawling tube. There will be a universal access station so special needs students can participate with their peers, as well as a tap-and-tune panel.
In addition to the main structure, there will be an accessible swing for the physically handicapped, seesaw snake and infinity climber.
Beneath the equipment will be a special surfacing made from recycled rubber that absorbs impact from falls. The surfacing adds safety for all students, increases access for wheel-chair bound students, and allows water to drain through so there is no standing water after a rain.
"The design for the playground was developed after surveying parents, teachers, and students about needs in this area," Hayes said. "Site visits to other public and school playgrounds allowed members to actually see and try out the equipment and surfacing."
Extensive research was also conducted by committee members including Hayes, Rhonda McKissack, PTO president, Lisa Halbrooks, physical education teacher, Jamie Roden, Special Education Coordinator, Lisa Gault, physical therapist, Anne Glasgow, occupational therapist, and Donna Legg-Battles and Konnye Holladay, parent representatives.
Any businesses or individuals interested in donating to the project can send their contribution to the F.E. Burleson Elementary School PTO "For playground" at 1100 Bethel Road NE, Hartselle.
For further information about the playground, call Hayes at the school at 773-2411. For information about "F. E. Burleson Night" at David's Catfish, call Gray at 751-1885.

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