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Panther Valley volunteers installing playground

Published August 09. 2018 09:57PM

Volunteers have unloaded the slides and ladders. School employees have dug holes in the schoolyard where the supports will be anchored. And after the ribbon is cut on Aug. 23, Panther Valley Elementary students will have a playground for the first time in about nine years.

“We started the playground, we ended up getting the money and got the playground in one year,” said volunteer Bertha Shreffler. “It was a dream, and now it’s a reality.”

Volunteers will be at the school Friday through Sunday erecting the playground. Volunteers from two businesses in Nesquehoning, AMETEK and KME, will be lending their time to put up the playground.

The volunteers have been scheduled throughout the weekend to perform different parts of the build. Workers will be on site 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday-Sunday. Members of the public are welcome to join as well, but they must be at least 18 years old for liability reasons.

“When everybody wants to come and help, it is sort of easy. It’s an exciting task, it’s a big to do,” Shreffler said.

AMETEK employees were at the school on Monday to help unload a tractor trailer which delivered several pallets loaded with playground equipment. Plant manager John Mayernik said they will be back on site on Saturday, all volunteering their time.

“This is great. From seeing the kids having to play on (the schoolyard), to seeing the pictures, this is amazing. I’m so happy AMETEK is a part of this,” he said.

The community has generously supported the project through fundraisers, and that spirit will continue through the build.

Meeds United Methodist Church donated hoagies, and others are donating pizza. Shreffler said she and art teacher Gail Lazar will also be cooking for the group on Friday.

After the playground is completed, volunteers hope to keep people off of it until it is officially dedicated on Aug. 23, at the school’s annual open house. The ribbon cutting will take place at 5 p.m. There will be a raffle for students, with prizes, and food on sale.

Principal Robert Palazzo will cut the ribbon with help from the Carbon County Chamber and Economic Development Corporation, and special guests.

“It was simple. We all felt Rob needed to cut the ribbon. He is the principal here. He was the backbone of us raising the money and we feel it’s only right,” Shreffler said.

Palazzo first raised the idea of a new playground in June 2017. Over the last year, teachers and students have raised $10,000. Palazzo secured a grant from the KaBOOM! Foundation and Dr Pepper Snapple Group for $15,000. AMETEK contributed $10,000, and other area businesses helped fund the project, which Palazzo said cost $45-50,000.

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