Editorial column by Evelyn Pyburn, Reporter for Yellowstone County News,
They did it.
Despite the odds against it, and despite a few naysayers, the Lockwood community raised the phenomenal $230,000 needed to build a new playground to replace their former, greatly beloved Lion’s Lair, which was also the product of a similar community-wide campaign some 30 years or so ago.
Lockwood keeps doing this – achieving what others declare to be impossible. With the beginning of construction last week of the new state-of-the-art playground, Lockwood should pat themselves on the back. Theirs is the can-do attitude that built this country, community by community. They demonstrate how things were meant to be achieved by industrious and creative people in a free and unfettered world. For reminding us of a concept that increasingly seems lost, for that, everyone can say “thank you” – thank you for standing as an inspiration to all who observe.
Dozens of people turned out for the groundbreaking, last week, enjoying the sweet cool of a summer morning, buffeted by gentle puffs of air that soon would be quite warm. The kids were probably just as awed by the big pieces of construction equipment that stood at the ready, as they would a playground, not discerning much difference.
The construction equipment was another example of the kind of support that has gone into the effort to build Lion’s Lair 2.0. COP Construction donated its use along with a crew to prepare the site for construction – a donation valued at $15,000, the kind of giving back to community that makes a community.
Lockwood Principal Mike Bowman called last Wednesday, “dig day,” as opposed to “tears day,” when people gathered to watch the razing of the old Lion’s Lair – a place which was great fun for some of them as children. He then urged everyone to visit school one day next fall to see “smiles day,” when the children burst forth from the school building — all smiles — to play on the playground.
In explaining the significance of the playground, well-known Lockwood volunteer Bob Reihl said the playground is where “dreams will be made for young kids.”
Noteworthy is the leadership role played by the Lockwood PTA, an organization which at the beginning of the campaign had been floundering and some wondered whether it should continue. But folks stepped forward – not least of which were Sue Robertson and Loree Baasch, PTA members. Sue Robertson, who is retiring after 44 years of teaching at Lockwood, brought a great deal of experience to the task – she was just as involved in the first Lion’s Lair project. There was some joking at a Lockwood School Board meeting that she was ready to start on the 3.0 project. She said that wasn’t so, but it never hurts to ask.
These are the kinds of people in Lockwood. People who doggedly stick to it to make things happen – from the building of a sewer and a top-notch water system, to building a new middle school and a new fire station, to pushing forward a means to develop sidewalks and street lights to make the community more safe, to the sustaining of youth programs, to the enhancement of infrastructure through the civic efforts of local businesses, new and old. And, most recently, as anyone driving in Lockwood, now-a-days, will quickly notice, there are nice smooth streets, due to the collaboration of the County and the Lockwood Sewer district.
None of these things came easy for Lockwood. There is a story of struggle behind each and every one – sometimes decades-long sagas, but the point is, no one ever gave up. With 8,000-people strong and with an increasing recognition that they are a community, there will be much more to come from Lockwood in Yellowstone County’s future, thanks to the people who live and work there.