Flood Can’t Dampen Small Town’s Spirit When southwest Washington state was hit by dangerous flooding that devastated whole communities in December 2007, the small town of Adna found its homes, businesses and parks suddenly under several feet of water. The 35 members of the Adna Lions Club not only had to worry about their own personal property and possessions, but also about the five-acre park they maintain and run, points out president Steven Barnette. The park was established by Lewis County in 1978, but officials soon asked Lions to take over its operation because of budget shortfalls. Lions decided they were ready to be put to the test even though the club had been organized only four years previously. “Our fledgling club took on the challenge,” Barnette says proudly. Lions used their own personal construction equipment and supplied countless hours of hard labor to get the park into working shape. The task was completed in two years. The county and Lions club worked together successfully to Make the park a community magnet, bringing together sports teams and picnickers, joggers and nature lovers. Barnette explains how this unique partnership works: “The county has maintained the paved parking areas, established chain link fencing and provided picnic tables, etc. Our club has led in getting a steel building for concessions, toilets and equipment and supply storage donated by a major corporation.” Thirty years after they took over the park, Lions were forced to stand by and watch all their hard work wash away in a river of muddy water and debris. When the flood waters receded, the shocking extent of the damage was revealed. “Tacoma Steam Power Plant donated coal cinders for our quarter- mile athletic track, hauled and laid by our members and their equipment—this has all been washed away,” Barnette points out. What wasn’t washed away was damaged, but not all of it was beyond repair. The Washington State Park Board had previously donated surplus mowing equipment to keep the landscaping in optimal shape. Finally repaired, the mowers are being used again by Lions but they’re finding that other areas of need aren’t so easily fixed. The club is still working to fund these projects as well as keep current with their usual service activities. Before the flood, Lions not only operated the concessions but also handled event scheduling and support for the numerous sporting teams that used the park. Afterward there was nothing left of the once vibrant and busy park site. The cleanup was labor intensive, and even included the removal of a large roof that was torn away from a nearby building and floated into the park, knocking down the entrance sign. Efforts still continue. Barnette says, “Since the flood, much improvement has been accomplished. Due to the help of numerous volunteers, both local and regional, and many hours of work by Adna Lions and donations from local merchants, the park has reopened.” A FEMA crew raked rocks off the ball field grass to help get it back in shape and community members are again using many of the facilities as the park revives from the ruins. Little League ball is being played, many structures have been repaired and the concession stand will reopen soon, good news for park visitors who crave the club’s signature “Lions burger” and fries, a money-making hit with hungry Little League players and their families after the games. Lions aren’t resting just yet, however. “Much still needs to be accomplished to get the park back to its original condition. For example, we lost 50 merchant signs that hung on the ball field fences, a substantial source of income for us—and they need replacing at $200 each.” Lions continue fundraising efforts as well as their usual community service activities around Adna, such as an annual canned goods collection for people in need. Lions received a happy surprise when one of the world’s foremost bronze wildlife sculptors, James Stafford, the grandson of Adna homesteaders, stepped forward to help. He may be world renowned, but he calls Adna home. Stafford generously created a limited series of 250 bronze lion statues to be sold for $1,889 each, with all profits donated to Adna Lions to help rebuild the park. Individually signed by Stafford and titled “The Guardian,” each piece is mounted on a walnut base and measures 16 inches in length, nine inches in width and stands a foot tall. Retail value is approximately between $3,000 and $4,000 (visit www.adnalionsclub.org for further information).
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.
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