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Park benches: Memorial gifts to everyoneTell North Platte what you think
 
Photo by Joe Chitwood
Memorial nameplate
Photo by Joe Chitwood
Kevin Fuller with his son Kent and nephew Eli Mahoe
Photo by Joe Chitwood
Variety of styles
Photo by Joe Chitwood
Peaceful place to watch the wildlife

Lining the driveways and sidewalks of Cody Park, public benches stand as special, enduring reminders of loved ones.

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Each bench carries a plaque with the name of a person, or a couple, and if each bench could talk, they would tell quite a story.

Kevin Fuller was at Cody Park with his son Kent and nephew Eli Mahoe on June 3, feeding ducks.

They told the story of a memorial bench near the park’s pond.

“Back when my dad was a kid, his parents Dale and LaDonna owned a trading post over by the cemetery (on Rodeo Road),” Fuller said.

Fuller’s parents also painted horses on the carousal and were active in developing Cody Park.

“All the animals that were originally out here in the park came from Dale and LaDonna,” he said. When Dale passed away, the city began getting animals from other sources, he said.

“This was basically their park and this is where they spent their time,” he said.

So, a bench in their name is a fitting tribute to their legacy.

City Parks Director Lyle Minshull acknowledged that most of the original animals were donated to the park by the Fuller family.

Minshull usually gets 3-4 inquires a year about donating a bench. The city tries to accommodate donors’ requests when selecting a location and presents an array of choices.

“I currently have a new one in the shop that will be installed soon,” he said. “As long as it doesn’t present a safety issue or interfere with park maintenance, we can usually put them where they wish.”

Some folks are currently planning a bench for John Lindenburger, a former journalist and mentoring director of Community Connections. 

Lindenburger. 46, died in December after a battle with cancer.

“We planted a tree for him on Arbor Day and some people are saying they would like to have a bench beside that, so we are going to be making some arrangements to do that,” Minshull said.

Lindeburger’s bench will be in Orabella Park on James St. between B and E.

Minshull said the people of North Platte have a great deal of civic pride. Purchasing a bench is a fine way to contribute to park improvement, and it reduces the strain on the park budget. 

“It’s kind of neat that people can memorialize someone and at the same time offer a service to our park system,” Minshull said.

Not all the donated benches are memorials.

Robert Lowe donated the bench near the entrance of Cody Park that sits directly in front of the statue of Buffalo Bill Cody.
When people make a request, the city shows aims to fit their budget. Benches come in various styles, sizes and colors.  

“There are some that even come with protective tops, you can see that type in Centennial Park,” Minshull said. Most of the benches are made of heavy steel, coated with plastic. They are virtually indestructible and require little maintenance. When they arrive, city crews pour a concrete pad for permanent installation.

Minshull is not sure how many benches have been purchased since the program began 10 or more years ago. 
“I have never really counted them,” he said. “I’m not sure anyone has.”

Several of the benches are in Cody Park along the fence facing the pond, where people watch and feed the animals. The benches offer a comfortable place to sit, observe, relax and consider a higher power. 

There are other benches at the Memorial Park splash park, in Centennial Park and other smaller parks in the city. A bench sits on the corner of Oak and Leota and a couple more are out on the bike trails. 

Anyone interested in purchasing a bench should contact the North Platte Department of Public Services and Parks for more information.

 

First published in the Bulletin's June 4 print edition.


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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 6/15/2014
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