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Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016

Sikeston family donates playground

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Ricky Skelton, a Sikeston Public Works employee, installs swings at the new playground.
SIKESTON -- A donation to the parks department will make the Clinton building even more inviting.

On Saturday, the Culp family will dedicate a new playground located next to the Clinton building at the Sikeston Sports Complex.

While the new equipment is likely to be appreciated by many who use the Clinton building or visit that part of the complex, the donation was made specifically to make things better for Culp family reunions.

For the past three years, the Culps have gathered outdoors at the Sikeston Sports Complex parks, according to Debbie Eddy of Belleville, Ill., as it is centrally located for family members and the family's oldest living member, "Uncle Leon" Culp, lives here.

"But last year was so unbearably hot that some of the family members had a problem with the heat," Eddy said.

Uncle Leon's son, Billy Culp, who also lives here and works for the city, suggested they hold their reunion in the Clinton building.

Last fall, Eddy and a few other family members came to Sikeston and were taken on a tour of the facility by Jiggs Moore, parks division director.

"While we were looking at it we realized there was no playground equipment nearby so I just kind of kiddingly asked him what it would cost to put some playground equipment in," Eddy said. "We have several young children who like to play on the swings."

Moore said it would take a few thousand dollars.

Eddy returned home to Belleville and discussed the facilities with her sister, Michelle Arnold, and nephew, Michael Arnold.

"The two of them said, 'Why don't we donate the money to put in the playground equipment?'" Eddy said. She explained her nephew is confined to a wheelchair due to a drunk driving accident which also left him with a settlement.

Eddy contacted Moore and asked if the playground equipment could be put in and ready before their reunion, "and he said, 'Absolutely.'"

The Arnolds donated $5,000.

"I told him we just absolutely needed a swing set," Eddy said. The rest of the playground they decided to leave to Moore's discretion.

"He said they were going to put in a piece of climbing equipment and a sandbox that would be handicapped accessible," she said. "He didn't even realize that the kid who donated the money was handicapped."

The park donation was made in honor of Leon Culp and in memory of Harold Culp, Eddy and Arnold's father, and Donald Culp.

"They were two of the older members of the family who were very enthusiastic about the reunions," Eddy said.

Parks officials agreed to put in a plaque and bench recognizing the donation.

"I think it was fantastic -- the city is very appreciative of the donation," Moore said. "The playground equipment was really needed for this end of the park. It will be a real asset to the park and a real benefit for family reunion groups who use the Clinton building."

Eddy said this year elderly family members will be able to cool down in the air-conditioned Clinton building during the reunion while only having a short walk to visit the playground with the young ones.

"We're just really excited about it," Eddy said. "We've decided Sikeston will be the permanent location for our reunions because we have such a good turnout there and it's centrally located. And the Clinton building is wonderful -- we can be inside and outside."