Brittney Lofthouse – Staff Writer

The Little Tennessee Greenway and the amenities found along the trail such as picnic shelters, the dog park, and Wesley’s Playground are all a labor of love for Macon County. From inception, the facilities have been maintained by volunteers in the community, such as FROGs, (Friends of the Greenway). While the properties themselves are located on county-owned land, the parks and amenities were established by volunteers. To rally support from the community and to help keep the Greenway and its features in top notch condition, volunteers are organizing a Spring Cleaning event to do some much needed repairs, renovations, and cleaning of the county parks.

“I want to help with the clean up because the Wesley’s Playground is a gift to our community from several grants, businesses, social clubs and local churches,” said Dave Linn, who is spearheading the event. “Everyone wants a gift to last forever and everyone wants to create memories with a gift. I want to continue making great memories with my children and I want to show others that we will not allow this to continue (vandalization) on our precious gift.”

Linn got the idea for a clean-up day after someone posted on Facebook about vandalism at the playground. Wanting to encourage community support, Linn took it upon himself to begin organizing the event and was quickly joined by Jan Bridges, who was instrumental in the development of Wesley’s Playground.

“On July 26, 1999, Wesley Malik Powell was the only fatality in a horrific daycare fire in Franklin. At the time he was the youngest member of St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church. Several church members, including myself, Yvonne Bryson, and Jerri Fifer, decided that a children’s playground  would be a fine way to honor Wesley’s young life,” said Bridge. “We held fundraisers, and raised over $3,000. The playground was originally to be constructed on property owned by St Cyprian’s on Roller Mill Road, however, because of liability concerns this didn’t work out.  Yvonne and I joined the board of the Friends of the Greenway, brought along the $3,000 we had already raised, and began working to bring Wesley’s Playground into reality on property owned by Macon County.  We devoted three years to this project of love. Today Wesley’s Playground, and Greenway employee, Terry Browning, needs help with daily maintenance from Macon County and its citizens. Wesley Powell, and the children of Macon County, deserve a well maintained playground.”

Macon County budgets a dedicated maintenance worker, Terry Browning, to keep the Greenway maintained. He also works diligently along side FROGs, a nonprofit and volunteer group who care for the Greenway and its amenities. Civic groups such as the Rotary Club and Lions Club regularly hold clean-up days along the Greenway and have portions of the Greenway they are dedicated to maintaining. Over the last few years, the county has budgeted funds to repair and upgrade the playground equipment and most recently, repair the water feature that is frequently used during summer months.

The new improvements funded by the county, along with a community clean-up day will get the Greenway and its facilities ready for warmer weather and another year serving residents of Macon County.

“St. Cyprian’s Parish and St. Agnes Parish, are known today as All Saints Episcopal Church,” said Bridges. “All Saints Episcopal church chose to use proceeds from the 20th Annual Sweet Corn Festival in 2017 to have Gooder Grafix make a Wesley’s Playground sign. The Satellite Rotary Club is erecting this sign.  I think once the volunteers do a spring cleaning you will see more eyes watching this gift and this gift will not be touched again. I am excited to be volunteering with other citizens who love this community and are proud of what we have and are willing to take a few hours out of their busy lives to help clean up the playground.”

The Spring Cleaning event is tentatively scheduled for April and is currently in the process of recruiting volunteers. For more information or to sign up, contact Dave Linn at bringingit2life@gmail.com.

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