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Contributed photo by Courtney Blakemore / Volunteers prepare barbecue to be sold as a fundraiser for a new playground in Rossville. From left are Sherman Hill, District 1 Walker County Commissioner Robert Blakemore, Jeff Coats, Robert Wardlaw, David "The Machine" Bennett and Rossville City Councilman Michael Hicks.

With its rotting boards and rusting screws, the 21-year-old playground next to Rossville Civic Center was no longer safe and recently had to be torn down.

While the city needs to prioritize funds from this year's special purpose local option sales tax cycle to replace police cars, community leaders consider the playground's replacement a top priority as well and are in the process of raising funds to make that happen.

"It's important that the kids in Rossville and north Walker County have a place to go and play, and that's missing now that we had to remove the old playground," said Rossville City Councilman Michael Hicks, who is leading the fundraising effort along with District 1 Walker County Commissioner Robert Blakemore.

"I campaigned on helping the youth, because the youth in Walker County has been overlooked for a lot of years now," Blakemore said. "With COVID and everything going on, we need a playground for the kids to get out and still be kids."

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Contributed photo by Courtney Blakemore / Robert Wardlaw of Wardlaw's Lucky Eye Q prepares barbecue to sell as a fundraiser for a new playground in Rossville.

The estimated cost of the playground is $80,000, Blakemore said.

Hicks said he hopes that the city can get a grant to partially fund the purchase of the playground equipment from PlayCore subsidiary GameTime.

The first event held for the fundraising effort, which they are calling Operation Rossville Playground, was a sale of barbecue prepared by Wardlaw's Lucky Eye Q that raised $6,169.

Fundraisers planned for the future include a softball tournament, a cake auction and possibly a pageant, Hicks said.

The dates of those fundraising events are yet to be determined, but anyone who wants to make a donation or help with the effort can contact Blakemore at 423-619-9724 or Hicks at 423-413-6132.

Contact Emily Crisman at ecrisman@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6508.

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