FORT LARAMIE – Sawdust flew and the whine of power tools filled the air as community members were out in force here Saturday, determined to make a small corner of their town as inviting as possible.
By the time they were done, virtually every picnic table in sight had a facelift, thanks to the donated time and efforts of Fort Laramie residents and elected officials alike. The project was the brainchild of the town’s newest Council member, Laura Curtsinger.
“It started when I moved here,” Curtsinger said. “I believe parks are something people look at right away when they drive into town.”
Curtsinger was appointed to the council in July to fill the seat vacated when Joyce Evans was named mayor. The two share an agenda geared toward improving the lives and livelihood of their fellow residents of this small Goshen County community, Evans said. When Curtsinger first presented her idea to the council she garnered immediate support.
“My agenda is similar to Laura’s – Community development and growing the community,” Evans said. “Anything we do in that direction has full support.
“This is what our community needs,” she said. “Elected officials who have the time and energy to devote to community development.”
Even former residents of Fort Laramie were on hand to help out Saturday. Margie Small currently lives in Texas, but she’s back in her home town, caring for her father, 91-year-old James O’Brien. She took time from those duties to help spruce up the parks she grew up playing in.
“When the community does something, I like to get involved,” Small said.
For a long time, most Fort Laramie residents were older, typically retired, without children who would utilize the amenities at a city park, Curtsinger said. Now, though, more younger families are finding the small-town atmosphere of the community inviting.
One of those is the Kirby family – Chris and Angel and their children, Maricela, 4, and Alex, 6. They were all out Saturday, enjoying a day in the park – occasionally splashing paint on one another – but mostly working on the table they adopted for the project.
“We’re just helping out with the community,” Chris Kirby said. “We live here and we want to make the town beautiful again.”
The best part of this particular project was its simplicity, said council member Joe Brown, taking a break from sanding his table. Relatively easy to accomplish, the project brought members of the community together to achieve a common goal, he said.
“As a Town Council, it’s our job to spearhead these things,” Brown said. “I thought this was a great idea. We’re put in the council to better the town. What better way than to help.”
Curtsinger said there was a moment on Friday, when she was calling the volunteers she’d already heard from to confirm for Saturday. A handful backed out as things had come up or the work day had slipped their minds.
“I thought it was all going to fall apart at the very end,” she said. “Then, later that same day, I started getting calls, asking if we still had tables to adopt.
“Everybody has been extremely amazing,” Curtsinger said. “This is a happy group of helpers.”