Dozens of donors, local stakeholders and public officials joined forces to recognize the collective effort that went into the reconstruction of Penny Playground during a festive Tuesday afternoon ceremony at Recreation Park in Chehalis. 

In addressing the group of supporters at the afternoon gathering, Mayor Dennis Dawes, a lifelong Chehalis resident, said he was proud of how three levels of government — federal, state and county —  collaborated on the $1.3 million rebuild that will result in a refurbished play space, featuring tall towers, multiple climbing elements, zip lines and other ADA accessible amenities. 

“Penny Playground, which at the time it was built, was state -of-the-art and it was to be inclusive of folks with handicaps. But it had a lifespan of 20 years and it served our community for 26 years,” said Dawes.

He later added that the newly renovated space — set to open next spring — will continue to promote inclusiveness with an all-weather play surface and enhanced visibility for children. 

Dawes thanked members of the Chehalis Foundation for their active role in bringing a variety of donors together for the renovation. 

Among those representing the Chehalis Foundation was the organization’s chair, Connie Bode, who voiced her appreciation to all parties involved in making the “incredible” undertaking a reality. 

“We’re able to continue the legacy of this beautiful park, which will benefit the city and hopefully the county and people beyond our area,” she said. “This play area has a community heritage that we’re all proud of. It’s got a special place in my heart as well as that of my children and grandchildren.” 

Bode continued by praising TransAlta for stepping in early and donating $350,000, which “gave us the boost we needed.” She also voiced her gratitude to the Shaw family, Don Jester and several service groups (Lewis County Rotary Foundation, the Kiwanis Club of Centralia- Chehalis, etc.) for their generosity as well. 

Dawes, on the other hand, mentioned the activism of Chehalis transplant Jessica Homyack and her husband, Tom Gorman in promoting the reconstruction. 

Homyack, a Pennsylvania native who serves as the co-chair of the Penny Playground Committee, said she was proud to be a “small link” in the chain of community-minded residents who contributed much of their time and dedication to the public project. 

Prior to the ceremonial photos opps of shovels breaking dirt, City Manager Jill Anderson also addressed the audience by crediting the people of Chehalis for their vision in providing a new and improved activity venue for future generations. 

“The community has once again come together to make Chehalis a better place for kids to play, to learn, to imagine … to have fun now and in the future. People have sacrificed to make this happen,” she said.

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