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Burned Playground to Reopen Next Friday

The playground at Sixth District Elementary School in Austinburg that was partially destroyed by fire over the summer will host a grand reopening next Friday, October 18 at 10:00AM. At Tuesday night's City Commission, Jerry Stricker, a former city commissioner, presented a check worth $5,900 to Heather Abbott of the Gateway Community & Technical College which is Sixth District's B.E.S.T. partner. Abbott is chair of that partnership and is overseeing the funding of the playground restoration which before the fire was expected to be a simple renovation. The funds will help offset some of the insurance deductible and go towards the handicapped-accessible playground equipment.

Stricker presented the check in what he called a bittersweet moment because it also marked the end of the Tubby Smith Clubhouse in Covington which since 2005 had provided a place for underprivileged youth in the city to learn about computers and after the classes, take a computer and printer home with them to keep. Over the past seven years, more than a hundred students completed the program. The program was primarily supported by the Tubby Smith Foundation and also Lexington Recreation which will no longer be funding the clubhouse. Stricker also thanked the many private donors who made the program a success during its run including, Oakley Farris, City Commissioner Steve Frank, and Alice Sparks. 

"If we only changed the life of one student our efforts and money we spent was worth it," Stricker said. 

Denise Carl of the Tubby Smith Foundation called Stricker in 2005 and that is how so many children ended up benefitting from the program. "Without that phone call, none of this would have happened," Stricker said. He and Carl, as the Clubhouse was set to close, looked at the leftover funds and decided that since they were collected to benefit the children of Covington, they would be used to do that in another way. Both will attend the reopening of Sixth District's playground next week.

PHOTO: Heather Abbott (L), Jerry Stricker (C), Denise Carl (R)