Exemplifying what makes our Port O’Connor community so special, citizens and students worked together several days in August to fix the school playground before the school year started.
Even though most of the schools in the district have the rubber tiles on the ground around their playground grounds, there was no money in the budget to fix ours. Around seven years ago the current playground equipment was donated to us through a grant. Since then the school district has done some maintenance on it, but much more needed to be done. The current weed barrier was old and torn creating a tripping hazard for children. The mulch was pretty useless and the ground was overgrown with stickers and weeds. Many parents spent their time at the playground pulling weeds out from under the slides and swings while their children played.
This past school year, the Port O’Connor PTO held fund raisers to save up enough money to fix the grounds. It was an expensive project and required the help of many volunteers. Nathan O’Neill of O’Neill Services donated all his time and labor and spearheaded the project. He contacted his supplier, Ewing Irrigation Products, and through them we purchased all our new weed barrier at wholesale cost. O’Neill Services spent two days straight digging out the old ground.
Many other businesses and community members came out to help. Billy Goode used his dump truck to haul off the old mulch and dirt. Gary Cunningham supplied new dirt to fill in ruts and holes from the recent bad weather. Sonny’s Marine came on Tuesday with four workers and a tractor to help dig out the ground. POC Liquor Store supplied materials for maintenance on the grounds.
PTO members, elementary school kids, and parents spent Monday and Tuesday digging out the places the tractors couldn’t get to. On Tuesday the first 18 wheeler of mulch was dumped in the driveway. By late Tuesday evening, part of the weed barrier was in place and the first load of mulch was spread out. On Wednesday morning the second load was dumped. Victoria Sweeping Services came, finished laying the rest of the weed barrier and dumped the mulch in small piles all over the playground perimeter.
Thursday morning, over a dozen parents and community members along with seven Coast Guardsmen showed up at 8:00 a.m. and started spreading mulch and pressure washing picnic tables. Kim Dickens and Josie’s Mini Mart brought tacos and “breakfast on a bun” to all the workers.
In three and half days this community banded together and dug out 11,500 sq ft. of old mulch and weed barrier and made it new.
Even though we have to fight everyday to keep our top-rated school open and operational, deal with massive budget cuts, and worry about the day we might have to ship our babies by bus 30 miles one way to school, our small community sticks together and takes care of their own. We are so blessed to have this community and all the people in it.