Groups donate money for Williamstown school playground

WILLIAMSTOWN — A community effort to raise money for a playground to be built at the new Williamstown Elementary School received a $60,000 boost at Tuesday’s meeting of Williamstown City Council.

Council voted unanimously to approve a $10,000 donation for the Williamstown Elementary School playground project during the meeting.

Council member Marty Seufer said it is rare for the council to make such donations, but thought it was a worthwhile project to help with.

Prior to council’s vote, five local organizations announced during the meeting that they were also making donations of $10,000 each for the project. The organizations were the Fenton Foundation, Pickering and Associates, Marietta Area Community Foundation, Parkersburg Area Community Foundation and Hino Motors Manufacturing.

Heather Bretthauer, principal at Williamstown Elementary School, said she and assistant principal Susie Schofield are leading the fundraising effort through the Williamstown PTA program.

Under state code, funding for playground facilities could not be included in the school bond approved by Wood County voters in November 2016 to fund the construction of a new elementary school in Williamstown, she said. After the bond passed, Bretthauer began researching the potential cost of installing and equipping a playground at the new school once it is constructed and set a goal of $150,000 for that project.

The project will include two fenced playground areas, since state law requires a separate playground for pre-kindergarten students.

Bretthauer and Schofield began fundraising efforts in the community, including raffles and bingo games. They and the PTA will also be looking at grant possibilities and other types of fundraising.

With Tuesday’s donations, Bretthauer estimated about $80,000 is now available with the goal of raising the full amount and getting the project built by the projected school completion in 2019.

Tom Fenton, with the Fenton Foundation, said additional money to complete the playground construction drive will be raised in the community by parents, students and other friends of the Williamstown community. Donation checks may be made payable to “Wood County Schools,” a 501c3 tax exempt entity (enter “W.E.S. Playground Fund” on the memo line), Fenton said.

In other business:

Mayor Jean Ford said the city will hold its annual Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Williamstown City Building, with music by local students and other activities.

Ford said council’s Dec. 19 meeting has been canceled.

Ford said the next city election will be May 8, 2018, for the office of mayor and two of the four council seats. The filing period for candidates is the month of January.