After attending the grand opening celebration for the new Riverside Park splash pad, I am bursting with pride. Many people don’t know what a huge undertaking this really was, it was a true labor of love and the funds used for this project were raised almost entirely by the local community.
On September 8, 2010, the Ogden Standard-Examiner editorial board posted an article that mentioned how they wondered “if Morgan city spending around $250,000 of taxpayers’ money for a splash pad, as well as park renovations, is the smartest idea during a bad recession period.” They went on to suggest “that city officials heavily promote the initiatives of some Morgan-area residents to raise funds by themselves for the installation.” The article was accompanied by a clever caricature of the city council looking out the window at children playing in the sprinklers. I couldn’t get permission to run the drawing, but you should look it up online, it’s good for a giggle.
Mayor Jim Egbert retorted in a letter to the editor, “We have never intimated that we were going to use $250,000 of the taxpayer’s money. Quite the contrary, as we are going to make this work with fundraisers and donations.” And make it work they did.
The Morgan City Council participated in multiple fund raisers over the next few years. They sold hundreds of hot dogs at the 4th of July celebration last year, held several raffles, offered concessions at movies in the park and much more. The city council spent an incredible amount of their personal time preparing for and carrying out these events. A generous Morgan county resident even offered to match all donations within a two week period. This anonymous donor ended up matching $9,400 in donations.
Parents and grandparents donated large amounts to sponsor some of the smaller water features and local businesses sponsored many of the larger water features. Business names are prominently displayed on each of the sponsored features, which is how the kids were referring to what they were headed to next. Colorful signs were hung on the fence near the features that were sponsored by private donations. For those who couldn’t donate on such a large scale, there were a lot of smaller efforts. For example, Krista Johansen spearheaded efforts through a local Facebook group, Morgan Moms, who raised nearly $400 through an account set up at 1st Bank. Karen Strong also raised a significant amount through a Morgan Grandparents group.
In the climate of entitlement we live in these days, where everyone thinks the government should fund our every whim, this gives me a glimmer of hope that people are still willing to work for what is important to them. It is amazing to me what can happen when such a small community comes together for a common goal. In recent months, many funds have been raised for families struggling during and after fights with cancer. The whole community came together when they heard of the proposed bike ride for Charese Foster. What was supposed to be a small event started by just a couple of neighbors, turned into a huge community outpouring. This community rises to the occasion each time there is a need, so I suppose the moral of the story is, never underestimate the spirit and determination of Morgan County.