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Nonprofit talks about park upgrade

The Keep Chaves County Beautiful group expects to finish repairs and upgrades to Cumberland Park in Midway by early December. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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The only park owned by Chaves County should look a lot different by early December if the plans of a local nonprofit go forward.

A group of about 30 people met Thursday night at the Midway Volunteer Fire Department Station to talk about efforts to fix up Cumberland Park, which has fallen into disrepair since it was established sometime around 1980 as a place where the community went for church gatherings, movies and other events.

The park is located at the corner of Templeton and Day streets in the unincorporated area of Midway, a community of about 700 people. The project to spruce up Cumberland is happening now because the Keep Chaves County Beautiful organization has received a $20,000 grant from the Keep America Beautiful-Lowe’s Community Partner grant program.

“How often do you have $20,000 thrown at you to do something productive with? Very rare. We have an opportunity here with essentially free money,” said Sean Davis, president of the Keep Chaves County Beautiful group.

The group took up the project after Chaves County staff asked them to consider it as a future effort. The group is now aligned with Chaves County, but was once the Keep Roswell Beautiful group formed in 1986. According to Keep America Beautiful guidelines, its affiliated nonprofits must be associated with a governmental entity.

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Davis told meeting attendees that the grant money can be used to pay for products and goods, but not labor or services. At this time, the organization plans to build a new fence; add some lights; resurface and repaint the basketball court; install a privacy screen around two large county waste bins; purchase and install park benches, picnic tables, grills and trash receptacles; create horseshoe pits, a small soccer field, a volleyball area, and a walking path; build a colorful children’s play area from recycled tires; and plant flowers, trees and shrubs.

Items are expected to be ordered by the end of August, with materials available in about 30 days. Then volunteer work can begin, with the bulk of efforts expected in October and November.

Davis said that he hopes volunteers will come not only from the Keep Chaves County Beautiful group but from the Midway community, the Roswell Job Corps and area school groups.

Experienced welders are especially needed, Davis said, and the group also is looking for donations of sand for play areas and pea gravel or crushing fines for the walking trail.

Chaves County is helping with the project as well. It has repaired the well so that it can be used for light watering or irrigation, and it will dig the walking trail.

“I think it is great,” said David Sutherland about the plans for the park. He was one of the community members at the meeting and has three younger children who he thinks will play in the park once it is upgraded.

“I grew up here,” he said. “The park used to be a lot better when I was a kid. I would like to see it where my kids will use it.”

More information about the project is available on the group’s Facebook page or by calling 575-317-5661.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.