THE GOSHEN NEWS
---- — DUNLAP — With less than $5,700 to reach its project goal of $130,500, the Elkhart County Parks staff is hoping the fundraising for a new Ox Bow Park Tower will be complete this spring To help raise the remaining funds the community is invited to collect pledges and take part in a March for the Tower March 23 at 2 p.m. at Ox Bow County Park.
The original 1972 redwood observation tower at Ox Bow County Park was destroyed by fire through an act of arson in 2010. The tower was not covered by Elkhart County’s insurance since it was considered a non-essential item.
Ancon Construction and RW Armstrong stepped forward to donate in-kind services to design and engineer the new tower with a steel base structure and required ADA accessible first level. The efforts to “Rebuild the Ox Bow Park Tower” campaign have raised more than $82,800 in grants and donations and the Elkhart County Park Board has committed $42,000 of project funds to help build the tower and amenities that will allow the first level to be ADA.
The largest donor to the project has been the Elkhart County Community Foundation, which designated a $32,000 matching grant last summer. Funds raised in the March for the Tower will help match the money of that grant.
Major donors who have already helped match the Community Foundation grant include the Welter Foundation, Irions Family Foundation, Corson Family Foundation, Bill Deputy Foundation, Monogram Loves Kids Foundation, Kiwanis Club of Nappanee, Commercial Structures Corp. and Friends of the Elkhart County Parks. Several individuals have also given gifts of $1,000 or more, and hundreds of community members have given donations of all sizes.
Members of the Two Rivers Running Club and the children and staff of Concord Ox Bow Elementary School have been the most active groups in trying to gain support and raise funds for the tower. Together they have raised over $13,000 of the funds and both groups continue to help toward the final phase.
During this school year alone, “Tower Tuesdays” at Concord Ox Bow Elementary School has raised around $800 to date. The children pay 50 cents to participate in a special spirit day each month. The last group to climb and remember the tower is the present fourth-graders who will move onto intermediate school this spring.
“The children have been an awesome inspiration,” said Larry Neff, director of the Elkhart County Parks. “By completing the tower before the next school year, we will once again ensure that all the children that have attended Concord Ox Bow Elementary will have had the opportunity to climb the Tower on their field trip during elementary school.”
The old tower was also a gathering place for many parents and grandparents to observe cross country meets at Ox Bow County Park. As a result, the Two Rivers Running Club have hosted three Tower Run 5Ks. The club will also help host the March for the Tower, which will include a Kid’s Fun Run. This event will be different pace than the past three runs, with a focus on a one-mile run for children in grades kindergarten through sixth. The March for the Tower will include a choice of a one-mile or three-mile walk, and the group invites people to gather their families, friends, and co-workers to come out and show their support for the Tower. Registration will begin at 1 p.m. the day of the event, with the walk and kid’s run starting at 2 pm near the Fisherman’s Camp Shelter at Ox Bow County Park. The minimum pledge is $10 per person. The event will be held snow, rain or shine.
All proceeds from the March for the Tower and Kids Fun Run will be donated to the Tower Fund and are tax deductable.
For more information about the walk, reserve a space, and to receive a pledge sheet, please visit www.elkhartcountyparks.org or www.2rrc.org or call 574-535-6458 to have one mailed to you. For those individuals, foundations, or corporations that can’t attend the March for the Tower, but would like to send a donation can do so as well. Please make checks payable to “Elkhart County Parks Tower Fund” and send to Elkhart County Parks, 211 W. Lincoln Ave., Goshen, IN 46526 or visit www.elkhartcountyparks.org for more information.