Kinsley Veterans Parks springs to life again
by Charlene Scott
If you drove down Sixth Street, Kinsley’s “Main Street,” any Saturday morning during recent months, you would have seen some of the best weed-pullers in the state hard at work on the Kinsley Veterans Park.
“I was shocked by the number of weeds,” said Vicky Haskell, one of the volunteers from the Neighbors Helping Neighbors Committee.
“We fought the weeds pretty hard,” admitted Kris Arensman, who with Sue Bagby leads the committee.
An enterprising Boy Scout founded the small park many years ago as an Eagle Scout project. Brian Laudick, son of John and Donna Laudick, went to the city and requested permission to begin his ambitious project. The narrow park is sandwiched between the Zwiesen Tile building to the east and the Sentinel Newspaper building to the west, and is across the street from the Palace Theatre.
With the help of Bryan Bradford, Laudick located bricks that members of Scout Troop 239 thoroughly cleaned and placed inside the park. Laudick then convinced Don and Herbert Stanley to haul an artillery gun to the park site at 220 E. Sixth Street.
“The gun had been in front of the old American Legion Hall out south,” explained Bagby, editor of The Sentinel newspaper in Kinsley.
Some twenty-five years after the scouts accomplished their good deed, the City of Kinsley still mowed the lot, but weeds had taken over the neglected park and many of the bricks had disintegrated.
“We wanted to make the town more attractive to visitors and to people who move here,” Bagby said. “We met with the city manager, and a letter was sent out to property owners to please clean up their property.” Arensman recalled that “We handed out flyers and gave away trees and flowers last year at the farmers market.”
The park eventually became the focus of the committee’s work.
“We wanted people to see that we were doing something, and not just griping,” Arensman said with a grin.
New bricks were obtained from a building that burned in Offerle. The building had housed a grocery store owned by Abner Offerle years ago, according to Arensman.
“We also ran an ad on television, and people donated bricks,” he said.
The PRIDE Committee gave $300 to the project and is paying for three wooden picnic tables with benches, two large and one smaller, for the park.
“We hope this will be a park where people will sit and rest and have lunch – and a place where people will come during activities at Christmas, the fair, and parades,” Bagby said.
“It’s shady here in the park, with a nice breeze most of the time, and what’s wonderful about this is that the park no longer is neglected,” Haskell pointed out.
“And we have a collage of flowers in the spring and summer: irises, cannas, vincas, moon flowers, and marigolds,” said Arensman, who specializes in tree care and is a certified arborist. “We will acquire more perennials over the years.”
The committee is building a brick walkway through the park and a retaining wall alongside the flower beds on each side. There had been talk of a mural to cover the bricks showing through the walls of the nearby buildings, but the committee decided against it.
“That’s the way high dollar restaurants make their walls [with bricks sticking out from peeling plaster], so we’ll just leave them that way,” Arensman said.
“We want the park to be as accessible and usable as possible by individuals with handicaps,” noted Bagby. “You can tell this isn’t a professional job, but a lot of folks have commented that they like it and that the park looks good. We hope it will last.”
Arensman admitted that he has a personal reason for laboring to beautify the Veterans Park.
“I want to see some changes in Kinsley,” he said. “My family is from here, and I would like to leave something behind to better the community. My family will live here for generations, and I think we can do a lot in this town that will change the attitudes of people and make everything nice.
“I may come down and have a picnic here myself when the park is finished!.”