Trailmasters, state team up for playground

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Frank Jackson State Park is one of 22 parks spread throughout Alabama, and Tuesday officials were on hand to celebrate the opening of a new playground, as well as the men who helped make it happen.

Curtis Jones, deputy commissioner of conservation for the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, said cutting the ribbon on the new playground would not have been possible without the Opp Trailmasters, who transported and assembled the equipment.

“This is very special,” Jones said. “It’s a celebration for what the Trailmasters’ partnership with us has done to improve this attraction.”

Jones said the state purchased the equipment, but it was the Trailmasters who picked up the burden from there.

“The Trailmasters put forth a tremendous amount of labor on this playground, as well as the walkway down to the island,” Jones said prior to Tuesday’s ribbon-cutting event.

“(The Trailmasters) take the initiative to create things and they work in concert with us.”

Jones said the community organization’s work is especially important when considering the funding state parks receive.

“We get a very limited bit of funding – maybe 5 percent of our total budget – from the General Fund,” he said. “The rest is from park visitors. Having this group of volunteers is a heck of a subsidy.”

Trailmaster Ken Short said the group is happy to do anything they can to help improve, not only Frank Jackson State Park, but any local public facilities.

“We’re happy to do anything we can to help,” he said. “We got (the playground) finished in about three weeks. There’s not another park near us for quite a ways, so we want this one to be place people from Covington, Coffee, Crenshaw, Escambia and other counties can come without having to make a half-days drive.”

Local businessman and Opp and Covington County Area Chamber of Commerce President Jo Richburg also said Frank Jackson State Park would be a much different place without the Trailmasters’ positive influence over the years.

“This stuff is not done without their help,” Richburg said. “You can set a wheel barrel out, but it’s not going anywhere until it’s pushed, and these folks push it.”

Prior to cutting the ribbon Tuesday, Rob Grant, assistant parks director for Alabama State Parks, presented Short with a proclamation in appreciation of the Trailmasters’ work. Grant also thanked the City of Opp for its efforts in establishing the playground, as well as Rep. Mike Jones and Sen. Jimmy Holley, both of whom were on hand for the Tuesday’s ceremony.