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Building community: Volunteers construct playground for Newport Elementary School

Volunteers braved the rain to put together the new playground equipment at Newport Elementary School June 9. Katie Nelson / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 5
Volunteers from the community, Newport Elementary students and parents, MidWestOne Bank and Midwest Playscapes helped construct the playground Saturday. Katie Nelson / RiverTown Multimedia 2 / 5
MidWestOne Bank employees helped construct the playground equipment that the bank helped fund at the Newport Elementary School June 9. From left: Mark Engfer, Debbie Engfer, John Lacher, Mollie Knudson, Barb Lacher, Terry Engfer, Newport Elementary Principal Rich Romano, Dan Ritter and Kristine Ritter. Courtesy of Barbara Lacher 3 / 5
Bruce Pudwill, Midwest Playscapes president, helped with playground construction June 9. Katie Nelson / RiverTown Multimedia 4 / 5
Volunteers put together several pieces of playground equipment at Newport Elementary School June 9. Katie Nelson / RiverTown Multimedia 5 / 5

NEWPORT — For over 50 years, four rickety swings have been some of the only play equipment at Newport Elementary School.

Through the rain, volunteers connected pipes and plastic June 9 to construct an eight-person swing set, merry-go-round, tetherball pole, spinners and a geometric climber outside the school, 851 Sixth Ave., to replace the old swings.

Principal Rich Romano said the playground will be ready for use by the time school starts again in the fall.

He said they will also be adding new hoops on the basketball court, a ga-ga ball — a game similar to dodgeball — pit and new wood chips from the school district facilities fund.

"We want to engage as many kids as we can during recess," Romano said.

Barbara Lacher with MidWestOne Bank has had a long relationship with the school, and together with Romano determined it was time to update the play area.

"There was a need for equipment that the school couldn't afford," Lacher said. "They're not able to raise the funds that other schools can."

Lacher connected with Bruce Pudwill, president of Midwest Playscapes, to choose the equipment.

"I saw the bank was going to help out and said I would be happy to do it at cost," he said.

Parents, students and community members, along with employees from both MidWestOne and Midwest Playscapes, built the playground in a matter of hours Saturday, saving the school labor costs.

"We always wanted a playground," Romano said.