Financed by the community and named by Howland students, the playground at the township park known as Tiger Town received a facelift over the winter when students from the classroom of art teacher Holly Schaeffer decided that it would be their winter project.
''When I first came on the board,'' said Jackie Mills, Howland Township Parks Board Trustee, it (Tiger Town) was in disrepair. Now it is very exciting to see.''
Mills, who works closely with students through The Ohio State University Trumbull County Extension Master Gardener's Junior Master Gardener program, believes it is important to get youth involved in community projects.
Howland art teacher, Holly Schaeffer, left, and student Taylor Hill work on the restoration of the Tiger mascot at Tiger Town at the township park. Vandalism and disrepair prompted the students to make sprucing up the playground their winter project.
''Tiger Town is the most widely used piece of real estate in our public parks,'' Mills said.
The project was the brainchild of several local community volunteers who spent nearly a year doing fundraising for what they envisioned would be a children's play area that would ultimately bring to life the ideas proposed by Howland elementary school students. More than 1,000 township residents signed up to help with construction of the park that was designed by John Dean, architect from the New York-based firm, Leathers and Associates, Inc.
Once funding, workers and materials were in place, it took a mere six days for construction to be complete. and the park was officially opened to the delight of area children in May 1998.
Over the years; however, age had faded the colorful paintings and vandalism had taken its toll. It was this need for some renovation that prompted the idea by Schaeffer's Craft Class students to take on the task of restoring the wooden displays in the park.
''The high school kids played there when they were younger and take pride in giving back,'' Schaeffer said.
Some of the wooden structures that surround the playground were re-cut by a local volunteer, while others were repainted by students, including the Howland Tiger mascot, originally designed by then Howland High School junior Allison Haake.
Mills, who said getting the children involved in taking care of the park helps them gain pride in their community, credits Schaeffer with going forward with the project in her classroom.