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Hope Star - Hope, AR
  • Restored community center serves Bingen

  • A beautiful park and community center can be seen in Bingen these days and the complex is for the community to enjoy. The park is known as Owens' Park, and the community is utilizing the premiere venue.
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  • A beautiful park and community center can be seen in Bingen these days and the complex is for the community to enjoy. The park is known as Owens' Park, and the community is utilizing the premiere venue. According to Bingen Volunteer Fire Department Chief Jay Lathrop, the Community Center was built in 1968 by the Bingen Extension Homemaker's Club. “When the club dissolved, the building remained,” Lathrop said. “Through the years, the structure fell into disrepair and the bank account for upkeep of the building dwindled. Odean and the late Mildred Westfall were the caretakers of the property for many years. They did a wonderful job, but illness forced them to retire.” Grants and donations along with volunteers donating hours of labor and materials is what made the park a reality. “We hosted fundraisers and put a new roof on the structure and painted the building,” he said. “The Arkansas Parks and Recreation Department gave us a grant and the grant paid for the basketball goal, the parking lot, the new play structure, and the pavilion.” “The name of the grant was the F.U.N. Grant, which stands for Fundamentally Underdeveloped Neighborhood,” Lathrop said. “We had one cash donation of $200 to help with the park.” The reason the park is named “Owens' Park” is because Bart Owens, landowner, permitted the city of Bingen to use the land where the park is sitting, according to Lathrop. “We have a 25 year lease and received it for $10. Mr. Owens purchased the fence and paid for the labor to have it put in, so we thought we would honor him with his name being on the park. “The majority of the labor was done by the Bingen Volunteer Fire Department,” he said. “Citizens of the community also helped and we couldn't have done it without everyone pitching in. ” Construction was started January 2011, and the state's final inspection was done in January 2012. The park has been open since then. “Park use is free and open to the public,” Lathrop said. “The park and community center can also be reserved for special events. The building rents for $50 per day. The rent goes for utilities and supplies for the building. It is considered a non-profit fee.” Another thing that the Community Center can be used for, according to Lathrop, is if a disaster occurs, the center can be opened up as a shelter. “If we have another occurrence of the ice storm of 2000, we can open the shelter to residents of Bingen and the surrounding area to provide help,” he said. Lathrop oversees the Community Center and says that, “We work with children's groups a lot. We enjoy seeing the children have a good time at the playground, in the community center, and just being outside.”
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