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Grant helps make parks more accessible

Taking advantage of a Kellogg Grant awarded to the Harrison County Community Foundation and shared with O’Bannon Woods State Park, Harrison County parks will be made more handicapped accessible in the coming weeks and months.
The grant is given to entities to increase opportunities to people with disabilities. In the state of Indiana, only two community foundations received the maximum amount allowed, and HCCF was one of those. The Foundation in Bloomington was the other.
‘One of the neat aspects of this that we’ve talked about as a group is that it’s made us so much more aware of the small changes that you can make within the facilities that can make them easier to use for more people,’ said Claudia Howard, director of the county parks department. ‘It’s really a win-win for everyone. The fact that the Community Foundation was able to come up with this funding, and with some additional funding coming from the county, is really a feather in the cap for everyone involved.’
A big problem with the old fishing dock at Hays Lake at Hayswood Nature Reserve near Corydon was the lack of access for people in wheelchairs. Two weeks ago, a new pier was constructed by Rodney Bruce of Corydon and several helpers at a cost of $17,700.
‘It’s about five times stronger than it needs to be, but it’s done right,’ Bruce said. ‘This thing will outlast you or I, and it will give many more people the opportunity to enjoy fishing.’
The old pier will eventually be removed.
The new pier has a roof over one half of it to shelter fishermen from the sun or rain, and a concrete ramp that leads from the grass to the pier was installed so people in wheelchairs can easily roll up or down the pier. A floating aluminum dock, which cost $17,000, is to be installed in a couple of weeks at Buffalo Trace Park east of Palmyra.
‘One of our intents with the new piers were to create opportunities for those with limited mobility to be able to come out to the lake to fish,’ said Howard. ‘Later, we’ll be putting in a gravel path from the parking lot to the pier, probably made of gravel with limestone and tamped down.’
O’Bannon Woods used part of its grant money to purchase a tamping machine and will allow the Harrison County Parks Dept. to use it make walkways.
Other parks across the county are also seeing improvements.
The pool at Harrison Poolside Park, in Corydon, and the one at South Harrison Park, near Elizabeth, received wheelchair lifts.
Buffalo Trace Park now has balloon-tired wheelchairs to make it easier to roll across the beach, all-terrain chairs for people to use to get away from paved paths and also a handicapped-accessible pontoon boat with a trolling motor so patrons can cruise around the lake and fish.
Also in the works is an observatory at South Harrison Park, complete with rollaway roof and exterior concrete pads for those with telescopes to use to observe the night skies.
Pending permits from the state, two 900-square-foot log cabins are set to be constructed at Buffalo Trace, with a mandatory completion date set by grant guidelines of March 1.
The two-bedroom cabins will have kitchen and bathroom facilities and will be set up so people with limited mobility can move around with ease.
‘Anyone can rent the cabins,’ Howard said.