Posted 8/07/13 (Wed)
By Kate Ruggles
Farmer Staff Writer
Old and outdated playground equipment is now a thing of the past for Tobacco Gardens Resort. Thanks to two concerned mothers and frequent campers, the McKenzie County Commissioners, the Watford City Park Board, the Army Corps of Engineers and many others, children at this popular recreation area north of Watford City on Lake Sakakawea now have two playgrounds on which to play.
“The playground equipment that was out there was about 30 years old,” states Cheryl Grantier, one of the women who was instrumental in getting the new equipment.
The other mother and frequent Tobacco Gardens visitor was Stacy Arnegard. According to Grantier, they both hated seeing children in the campground without a place to play, while the facility’s playground sat empty.
“The equipment was just old. And, when the kids played on it, they got hurt,” states Grantier.
And Peggy Hellandsaas, manager of the Tobacco Gardens Resort, agrees.
“The old equipment was so hot the kids could not play on it,” states Hellandsaas.
Grantier and Arnegard approached Hellandsaas about donating some new equipment so kids would have a place to play when they visited the area. But, after searching equipment prices, Arnegard and Grantier soon discovered they were going to need some help.
“Nothing was available in our price range except a play house,” states Grantier. “When we looked into the kind of equipment we wanted to donate, we did not have enough money.”
It was then that Grantier and Arnegard decided to go through the Park Board. They wrote letters and got the support they needed for the project.
“The Park Board was very supportive, as was the McKenzie County Commissioners and the Army Corps of Engineers,” states Grantier.
Once the project became a Park Board project, it became much bigger than either Arnegard or Grantier anticipated or imagined.
According to Grantier, the Tobacco Gardens playground project received $50,900 in donations from area residents, organizations and businesses. And, what fell short in donations was provided by the McKenzie County Commissioners making the $103,000 project completely paid for.
The $103,000 project included renovations for both the north and south playgrounds at the Tobacco Gardens Resort giving them each new playground equipment, a picnic shelter, and a mulched play area. The north and south playgrounds were given individual themes as well.
“Both playgrounds are new, but they are both different,” states Hellandsaas. “One playground has a climbing wall and climbing equipment, while the other has swings and slides.”
The process for a new playground began in 2012 with Grantier and Arnegard started writing letters and raising support and donations. And it ended this June when over the course of two to three weeks, a father and daughter from BC6 Builders of Dickinson installed the new equipment.
“We were so anxious for the new playground,” states Hellandsaas. “It took them longer because of all the rain in June, but they did a really nice job.”
Hellandsaas also states that they have made a huge difference.
“Before no one was on the playground. But now that the equipment is so child-friendly, it is always full,” states Hellandsaas. “In fact, now a lot of campers request to be near the playground so their kids can play.”
The shelter on the south playground has not yet been installed, but it will be done before the end of the summer season.
“Stacy Arnegard and Cheryl Grantier did such an amazing job raising funds and getting the community’s, the county’s and the Corps’ approval,” states Hellandsaas. “They need to be recognized for their efforts.”
Those who donated to the project were the McKenzie County Eagles Club, the City of Watford City Roughrider Fund, McKenzie Electric, Operation Roundup, Milo and Julie Wisness, Larry and Pam Kummer, the Garrison Diversion Conservancy District, the American Legion, Brent and Stacy Arnegard, Don and Judy Maston, Donna Maston, Marty and Cheryl Grantier and the Watford City Fort Union Masonic Lodge.