Pilot Club Makes Possible Weldon Park Addition

Boasting bright, vivid colors, slides, instruments of sound, and a handicap-accessible ramp, community members are already taking advantage of a new piece of play equipment in Weldon Park in downtown Martin. The additional fun is made possible by the local Pilot Club.

In keeping with the Pilot International goal of “keep building a better community for families,” the Pilot Club of Martin worked with the City of Martin on grant applications and private fundraising to establish the new playset atop rubber surfacing. The play space is nestled among the shade trees and picnic tables and is now officially open to the public.

“Typically, people would use mulch under the playground equipment. It was part of our desire to have rubber surfacing. It makes it easier to maneuver and it’s cleaner. Overall, it offers safety benefits and a cleaner environment for kids. It also gives it a fresher, more modern look,” Martin Pilot Club President Allison Whitledge said.

Through the Club’s annual Miss Martin/Miss Weakley County pageants, along with smaller fundraisers throughout the year, the Club was able to donate approximately $36,000 toward the project, which included the purchase of a new piece of playground equipment, the construction of wide sidewalk ramps leading to the equipment and rubber surfacing. The City of Martin was able to secure roughly $75,000 in grant funds for the playground project.

“It’s been a great project. Public/private partnerships are when government works best,” Martin Community Development Director Brad Thompson said.

The Pilot Club president reiterated the value of the partnership with the city.

“Working with Brad Thompson and Mayor Randy Brundige for this project allowed us to put this in place. They were helpful in securing the grants for it,” she noted.

Whitledge said the local organization has a goal of raising around $15,000 each year over the next three to four years for Weldon Park projects. Pop-up fundraisers throughout the year will help the non-profit group reach their goals, with a potential gala event in October.

She said they are aware the needs include water fountains and a restroom area as well as more pieces of playground equipment.

“We look at it now and say, ‘where do we go from here?’” Whitledge said.

With one goal reached, and others in the planning stages, community members can already start reaping the benefits of a partnership between the public and private sectors in Martin.

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