PES playground added to county budget consideration pile

Ponoka County council is considering gifting the Ponoka Elementary School Fundraising Society $100,000 in support of their playground

Ponoka County council is considering gifting the Ponoka Elementary School Fundraising Society $100,000 in support of their playground and outdoor classroom.

In early 2015, the Ponoka Elementary School body is scheduled to move to the former Diamond Willow Middle School building, and due to changing playground equipment standards, they are going to be left shortchanged.

Layna Palechek and Jennifer Bartley—the only two members of the Fundraising Society—made their presentation to councillors during their Tuesday, Nov 25 meeting.

They state that once the wooden equipment is removed from the Diamond Willow Middle School ground, there will only be enough playground items left to safely service 75 to 100 of the 600 students. “We have kids that will not have a playground in a couple of months,” said Palechek.

These new standards will also affect the Ponoka Youth Centre, which shares the same field and also sports a wooden playground.

While they did not need a dollar value, Palechek and Bartley are looking for a commitment from council to help them win a Community Facility Enhancement Program (CFEP) grant.

“Without CFEP, I don’t think and community or school can build a playground,” said Bartley.

“We’re hoping this coming budget year, you’ll support us,” Palechek told councillors.

The Town of Ponoka, Lacombe/Ponoka MLA Rod Fox and Wetaskiwin MP Blaine Calkins have also thrown their support behind the program, but the one party Coun. Doug Weir wants to see is Wolf Creek Public Schools. “I think the school system has got a lot of dollars and they should be putting some money in.”

“There is not a school board in Alberta that puts money toward playgrounds,” Palechek added.

Ponoka Covered Wagon Handicapped Transport Society

The Covered Wagon Society request for funding from the council has also been pushed into budget decisions.

Last year county council donated $18,000 and this year the request is for $20,000, for operating costs and van replacement.

“It’s only recently they needed help with their costs,” said county CAO Charlie Cutforth.