Sublette adds park equipment, saved from landfill

Chris Leffelman was told by John Hanson that two schools in Rockford were being torn down and had useful playground equipment. A group of volunteers got the equipment to Leffelman’s home, but COVID-19 stopped the equipment’s installation. Now, with all lights green, the volunteers were able to assemble and install the park equipment on both the north and south sides of the Ellice Dinges Center. Brandon LaChance/Amboy News

SUBLETTE – The parks on the north and south end of the Ellice Dinges Center look a little different than they did once before.

On the north end, a piece of equipment containing two slides, a chain fence and other fun activities for kids was added.

Visitors of the south park on the EDC grounds can now pull themselves through the snake-like money bars or glide on the zip line.

“I got a call a couple years ago, before COVID-19, Josh Hanson told my daughter Katie that he was tearing down a school in Rockford for the company he was working for,” said Chris Leffelman, the Sublette Park Board president. “They had a bunch of playground equipment and he said it would be a shame for it to go to a landfill because it wasn’t that old of stuff.

“We got permission to go to Rockford and get it, so a group of around 15 volunteers took it all down, everything we could get in one day, and stacked it on pallets. Then COVID hit and we couldn’t do anything. We finally got through COVID and got some guys to put the equipment together at my house in the country. We hauled it into town and put it up.

“It saved the park a boat load of money. It took a lot of volunteer hours but it was worth it. If we were to buy the equipment, the people in Rockford told us it was around $30,000-40,000. We got it for nothing.”

Hanson wasn’t part of an organization or agency, he was simply being a friend to the Leffelmans and to Sublette by suggesting the equipment.

Chris Leffelman paid it forward as Hanson told him of another school in Rockford being torn down and he told another community about available park equipment.

The equipment Sublette gained and has now installed has been a hit with the kiddos.

“We had swings and slides, but we didn’t really have anything for the little kids,” Leffelman said. “If you look at park equipment catalogs, it’s crazy the amount of money they want for stuff. Liability insurance is the big thing. This stuff looked really good even though it laid in a shed for two years. It works perfectly and the kids seem to love it.

“Parks are for kids. We do the tractor pull every year as a fundraiser. All the money we make, it’s not a lot, but it all goes back into the park. It’s a village park but we’ve always had a park board and a big group of people that show up when you call them for anything to do with the park.”