Construction is nearly complete on a new accessible playground for Ma Murray Community School, thanks to the generous support of Fort St. John Rotarians, the school's Parent Advisory Council, and NorthRiver Midstream.
More than $70,000 was raised by the Rotary Club of Fort St. John, which kickstarted community fundraising in 2018, with many other businesses and corporate sponsors also contributing to the cause.
Two dozen volunteers were hard at work Tuesday welding, pouring concrete, and installing the playground equipment, which includes a merry-go-round, accessible swings, slides and climbing equipment, and rubber ground padding.
PAC President Christine Kraeleman says she’s proud of the work being done.
“The whole operation has been amazing, it’s been very seamless. It was supposed to five days on construction, we’re likely going to be two days tops,” she said. “It’s been awesome with all the volunteers and NorthRiver’s manpower.”
Lacey Beaumont, community and Indigenous business advisor for NorthRiver Midstream, said she’s happy the company could help — the company finished fundraising efforts with a major donation at the start of this year.
Beaumont said that accessible playgrounds are few and far in between in Fort St John.
“The really important part for us is that we’re committed to contributing to the communities that work and live in,” Beaumont said. “Being born and raised here, I saw it as a really big step moving forward – giving the kids a new playground and a place to play — all kids."
With the COVID-19 pandemic waning and restrictions loosening, Beaumont says it’s a great feeling to be back out in the community with boots on the ground.
“With COVID, there wasn’t a lot happening in 2020,” she said. “It’s been a struggle for a lot of the community, but we’re very happy to be supporting this.”
She added the playground has real value not just for the school but also for residents with children who live nearby – open for everyone to use once construction wraps up.
A formal grand opening is being planned for the new school year.
Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative, Alaska Highway News