New play equipment for Fritsch fourth and fifth graders

When the fourth and fifth graders at Fritsch Elementary School take their first recess of the year on Aug. 26 they'll have a new play structure with a yellow spiral slide called the Typhoon.

"All our other play equipment is just old piping," said volunteer Charise Whitt.

Now the students will have a chain net coated in blue rubber, two plastic slides and a rock climbing wall with purple hand holds.

"The kids will really like that," she said.

Volunteers from GE-owned Bently Nevada and the Parent Teacher Association put up the new equipment Saturday.

"It should be ready by the first day of school," Whitt said.

She and he husband, Greg, volunteered to help with the equipment knowing their kids, Adam, 10, and Avery, 6, would be playing on it.

The project was a joint effort by the PTA and Elfun, a GE volunteer group. The PTA came up with the plan and raised the funds and the Elfun volunteers came out to help with the labor, according to Elfun event organizer Melissa Bilbao.

"I cannot tell you how much we appreciate Elfun," Whitt said. "We thought maybe since they are based in Gardnerville they wouldn't want to come out here but they have employees who are from Carson and they said, 'Sure, we'd love to help.'"

Mike Brown, who puts together about 30 play equipment structures each year with his business Michael Brown Associates, said the volunteers cut down on costs for the PTA.

"They're saving them approximately $8,000 in labor," he said.

He brought some other volunteers -- a Department of Corrections crew from the minimum security ranch off Fifth Street -- on Thursday to tear down the old structure.

"A lot of the old equipment did not conform to the Americans with Disabilities Act," explained Whitt.

"We were losing so many (pieces of equipment) that the kids didn't have anything left to play on. All we had left were the swings and the pyramid."

Brown said the new structure -- with its yellow plastic roofs, blue slide and red railings -- cost about $45,000.

"I guess that rules out putting one of these in my back yard," said an Elfun volunteer.

Another member, Kris Wickstead, explained how GE President Gerard Swope created Elfun in 1928 . The name "Elfun" is a contraction of the words "Electrical" and "Funds," said Wickstead, an electrical engineer.

Elfun and the PTA plan to work on more projects at Fristch in the future including an obstacle course and exercise trail for physical education classes, said Bilbao.

Next on the list is a play structure for the kindergartners through third graders to be built next summer.

"It'll be similar --maybe not quite as high," Whitt said.


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