On Saturday, July 21, the Ballinger High School Junior Chamber of Commerce’s “Painting The Park” project was a great success and exceeded everyone’s expectations. The project was organized by three members of the Ballinger High School’s Ju nior Chamber, Marina DeHoyos, Cody Harral and Damian Willborn. Terri Harral heads up the Junior Chamber at the school and helped organize the event.

“The three students are part of the TMCN, Texas Midwest Community Network leadership project,” said Terri Harral, who is also the mother of student Cody Harral. “The project challenges the kids to find something in the community that needs to be done and then to do the work to accomplish the tasks.”

The students attended city council meetings, park board meetings and also met with the Chamber of Commerce staff president Tammy Virden and park manager Claude Johnson. The process to paint the park was lengthy but worthy. Virden gave the students a list of potential projects around the community and they chose “Painting The Park.”

The students and Harral went before the city council and proposed the idea of painting the park a few weeks ago.

“I was pretty nervous going in front of the council. It was pretty nerve-wracking, but the council liked the presentation and said that I did a good job. I think that they were impressed that it was kids putting this project together,” DeHoyos said with a chuckle.

The response was immediately positive and the council agreed to provide the paint and other supplies for the project. With the approval of the city council in-hand, they attended a meeting of the park board who also approved the project. DeHoyos made a presentation at the Ballinger Lions Club, which supported the project by providing funds for rental of a man-lift to paint the entrance sign and also bought water and snacks for the participants. Fliers were then created and posted around town to garner participation. Ballinger Athletic Director Chuck Lipsey, along with a few other coaches and staff members, challenged their athletes to participate. The face lift for the park was dearly needed as many pieces of equipment, including the entrance sign, had chipped and faded paint that was in poor shape.

“The amount of involvement we got from the community was impressive. It was a lot of work to spread the word but the process went well and it’s been really smooth,” said Cody Harral.

The park was indeed filled with enthusiastic community members painting and organizing work, including Elaine Paske from the City Park board. Nothing was safe from the paint brushes as the swings, see-saw, basketball goals, aluminum picnic tables, decorative stones, bollard posts and barbecue pit stands were all painted. Even Indian Hill got a healthy coating of paint. The volunteers included students, parents, coaches, park board members and other members of the community, all with one goal: Paint The Park. The transformation of the park from dull, drab, faded paint to bright, festive colors, including Ballinger high school colors, was dramatic. There is little doubt that the positive affect of the project will be felt by every visitor to the park.

“A lot of people came out, many more than anyone expected. It’s good to now that so many people care about this project and our community,” Willborn said as he headed off, brush in hand, to attack yet another faded piece of equipment.

The efforts of the students will reverberate in the community as they ride the wave of momentum from this project to organize future projects.