By Tim Leeds
The Lights football team and Tom Bergren of Montana Power Co. braved a cold north wind Tuesday to donate time and effort at Family Student Housing at Montana State University-Northern.
Montana Power donated Bergren's time and a backhoe and truck, and the MSU-N football players and coaches held their practice at the housing to remove old equipment from the R.O. Morgan Playground. So many players and coaches came to help more than 50 that they found other work to do.
They hauled unwanted items and trash from the university infant and child care centers, helped move picnic tables, collected water hoses, tore down fences, and more, cleaning up the housing facilities and preparing them for winter. Pizza Hut and Pizza Pro donated food for the workers.
The housing managers, Carissa and Don Tielking, are trying to replace the playground equipment with modern equipment that meets federal requirements for safety and accessibility for the disabled.
"It's looking better and better as time goes on," Carissa Tielking said. In addition to the football team's and Bergren's time Tuesday, she has had many other offers of help to upgrade the playground. Clubs and organizations on campus have offered to help, and many individuals have pledged assistance.
The workers removed the old equipment Tuesday. They filled gopher holes and leveled the surface.
Tielking and her husband are applying for grants to replace the playground equipment. Many of the grants they are applying for require matching funds, including donations of labor and use of equipment. The more people that work on the project the better, she said.
The Students in Free Enterprise club has offered to help apply for grants, and Jim Swan has offered making grant-writing for the playground a project in the grants class he is teaching at MSU-Northern.
"I'll either have a student do the writing or do it myself," said Swan, who is vice president of RJS & Associates Inc., a consulting firm at Rocky Boy.
Swan said the Tielkings have done good work in researching the budget needed for the playground, so his class won't have much to do to figure out the amount and materials needed.
Students in family housing named the playground after R.O. Morgan, a favorite of the children in the housing. Morgan was attending the university with his wife, Georgiana, when he died of a heart attack in 1981 at age 57.
Tielking said the R.O. Morgan Foundation is administered by the MSU-Northern Foundation to help take care of the playground. But, she said, in the past Georgiana Morgan has been the only person making donations to the Morgan Foundation and that hasn't been enough to take care of all the playground's problems.
The work on the playground is planned for the spring, and the playground should be ready by summer, Tielking said. The sandbox and swing set will be replaced with new equipment. The concrete basketball court and a set of horizontal bars will remain. The horizontal bars, made by a welding student at the university, will be refinished.
Tielking said new equipment has already been selected. She said she and her husband would like to add picnic tables and benches, and are considering adding barbecue pits. The surface of the playground itself must meet regulations consistent with the height of the playground equipment above the ground.
People interested in pledging donations or finding out more information can contact Carissa and Don Tielking at 265-1250, or can make donations to the R.O. Morgan Foundation at the MSU-Northern Foundation, 265-3711.