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North side playground a labor of love in Verndale

Photo by Rachelle Klemme The Rev. Amos Self, who has been the pastor of Verndale Assembly of God since May 2010, said the community playground is part of the church's mission to "Love God, Love People, Love Life."1 / 2
The playground on the north side of Verndale by the Assembly of God church is slated to be complete in 2012, but the current shell is open for kids to play in.2 / 2

Verndale's new north side playground, built by the Assembly of God church, is a work in progress but now functional and safe for kids to play in.

The Rev. Amos Self said that concerns had been expressed about kids on the north side of town needing to cross the busy four-lane U.S. Highway 10 and railroad tracks to get to the playground on the south side. Now, the north side has a playground - which will be added onto and have a pirate theme because of the school's mascot.

"What you see right now is basically a shell," Self said. "Underneath, there will be a lot more layers and aspects, challenges, things for kids to interact with, tunnels - we're about $5,000 into a $10,000 project."

Volunteers from the church put in more than 1,000 hours to build the playground - which would have cost four times more if it had been ordered already built. Some materials, like the fence, were donated.

People in the community have pitched in monetary donations to make the playground happen, Braaten Aggregate offered a church discount and the Verndale Lions have taken an interest in tree planting for down the road.

Self, who has been the pastor of Verndale Assembly of God since May 2010 and has a family of his own, said that the church had been thinking about a playground for some time.

"A couple of the guys in the church just wanted to see this thing come together, and invest back in the town," he said.

More than 40 people volunteered, and there were three different types of fundraisers - including kids at Vacation Bible School.

The existing play area, which includes swings and a large wooden playground piece with slides, tires, bridges and climbing slopes, has yet to be finished and painted.

"There will be a deck that goes up to a 10-foot level, an observation tower, which will actually be the bow of the ship, and the cyclone slide will be the stern of the ship," he said.

They also made a hill so kids can go sledding in the winter.

Self said the project is designed with spaces large enough so that parents can go with their kids into the playground. It was structured primarily with 6- to 12-year-olds in mind; children 5 and under are recommended to have adult supervision.

He said they got also some ideas from the large playground in Medora, N.D.

Self said they are following the insurance company's guidelines and keeping the playground up to code, and as a safety feature the area is fenced off so the kids don't just run out into the street. The fence was finished Tuesday, Sept. 20.

The playground is on church property where a garage used to be, but it is intended to be used by anyone.

"This is definitely a community built playground," Self said.

Self said the playground fits with the church's vision to "Love God, Love People, Love Life."

The church itself has seen a high amount of growth recently and plans to have a building expansion to fit its population.