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‘Denny’s Place’ opening draws throng

By Submitted, 10/24/18 8:29 PM

Dedication and ribbon cutting ceremonies for the “Denny’s Place” outdoor classroom and garden at the Hope Academy of Public Service were held Tuesday. School board representative Kathryn Dickinson thanked the community and the Hempstead County Master Gardeners on behalf of her family for the spirit of support for public education the facility represents in honor of the late Denver “Denny” Dickinson. She credited Master Gardeners Marlon Ward and Nan Wright as the guiding lights for the project.


HOPE – The dedication and ribbon cutting for the Denny’s Place Outdoor Classroom and Garden at the Hope Academy of Public Service campus was a heartfelt event that drew a throng of community support to the campus Tuesday.
“Many of you here today have walked the path on this with us from the beginning; and, know all of the labor of love, blood, sweat and tears, and the realignment of the plan that we had to do based upon issues with Mother Nature,” HAPS Principal Dr. Carol Ann Duke said in her welcome address. “It would not have been possible without the help of so many of our community members.”
Duke expressed thanks to Hope Schools Superintendent Dr. Bobby Hart for allowing the dedication of a corner of the HAPS campus to the project in memory of the late Denver “Denny” Dickinson.
“Denny was a former school board member; and, he was one of the founding visionaries of the Hope Academy of Public Service,” Duke said. “We lost him before we ever really came to the full depth of this project; and, in his memory, honor and his dedication to all things gardening and agricultural, and to the students, we dedicate this place in his honor.”
Dickinson passed away in September, 2017.
Hope Mayor Steve Montgomery said the project is a testament to Dickinson’s dedication to public education.
“He would thank the adults who are here; but, he would be most proud of the students,” Montgomery said. “You have worked hard on this project, along with the teachers who have helped; and, it was always the students he talked about when he served on the school board. He is smiling right now because he is proud of you guys.”
School board representative Kathryn Dickinson offered remarks on behalf of her late husband’s extended family.
“My heart is sore, my heart is full; and, I’ll try to get through this without crying, but I thank you all for being here,” Mrs. Dickinson said. “It’s a tremendous day, and I want to thank the Master Gardeners who have been here.”
She said the Hempstead County Master Gardeners led by Nan Wright and Marlon Ward were leading lights in the project.
“Hope, Arkansas; this community has been great,” Mrs. Dickinson said. “So many contributions, and so much work has gone into this; and, I can’t thank you enough for all of your support. Without these two ladies, this would never have come to fruition. They worked hours upon hours and more hours; and, I can’t thank them and all of those who worked with them enough for what they’ve done.”
Wright represented the Master Gardeners, and recounted some history.
“This garden is a lesson in how big things often have small beginnings,” she said. “In 2016, Master Gardeners talked with Principal Carol Duke about plantings around the HAPS sign in the front of the school; a fairly small project.”
In the interim, Wright said a group of Master Gardener members visited Nashville Elementary school and were impressed with the garden project on that campus.
“We began plans to build a school garden at HAPS,” she said. “In January, 2017, the HAPS garden was adopted as a Master Gardener sanctioned project.”
Wright said HAPS students devised the final scheme of the garden using a central “H” configuration for the planter boxes and including a bee and butterfly pollinator garden in the concept.
“For the next several months, Master Gardeners and Dr. Duke spoke with community groups about donations to help fund the garden,” Wright said. “The garden was named Denny’s Place in the spring of 2018 in honor and memory of Denny Dickinson; and, plans were refined to the structural layout.”
She said Duke offered the idea of raising donations through the sale of “paver stones” which were decorated and treated for preservation. Wright said 1,000 pavers were purchased for the garden.
“Throughout Summer, 2018, work continued,” she said. “A water system was installed, pavers laid, more sand and dirt was moved, benches were built, a sink work area installed and mulch spread.”
Wright said the project grew as volunteers grew.
“We kept saying, ‘Wouldn’t it be great, if…,’” she said. “And we changed the plan to make the garden work best for the students and teachers at HAPS.”
Wright detailed how volunteers simply showed up and returned time and again, including Bruce Ward, who laid the framing work for the main garden, pollinator bed, and class area benches; helped install the watering system; laid paver stones and set posts along with signage.
“He basically sawed, hammered, worked and advised us on every aspect of the garden,” Wright said. “Our words were, ‘Bruce says…’”
Randell Spencer built the two 4×4 storage buildings; while John and Johnny Johnson of Johnson Plumbing donated and installed the watering system; and, Scott Hardee of Hardee Electric donated and installed electrical access.
“They kindly donated time and know how to do it right,” Wright said.
She said Kenny Newton of K&D Sand donated loads of sand for landscaping; Max Light donated sod dirt to build the main garden area; and, Warner Mays donated trucking services for carrying sand and dirt.
“Greg from the Hope Public Schools was always ready to bring us wheelbarrows or any needed help,” she said.
Wright thanked Dan Rohrbaugh for construction of the student benches and work area for the sink, while Daniel Brown provided the sink and plumbing. Fulton Grass Co. provided a pallet of sod grass, while Old Castle provided mulch and garden soil, she said.
“Sheriff James Singleton brought his county jail workers for numerous hours of work,” she said. “We cannot say enough thank-yous. We might have done it without you, but it would have taken two more years.”
She said that New Millennium Building Systems has agreed to construct a metal roof cover for the student area.
Wright said the faculty at HAPS pitched in to do much of the mulching, soil spreading, paver setting and garden planting.
Donors of time, services, materials, or funding through paver purchases included McDonald’s of Hope, Hempstead County Title Co., Dr. Jarrell Irby, Linda and Dennis Ramsey, Farm Credit Services, Farmers Bank and Trust, First Baptist Church Kitchen Crew (Dickinson Memorial), Dr. Carol Duke, Bank of the Ozarks, Diana Keith, First United Methodist Church, Hope Kiwanis Club, Hope Civitan Club, Southwest Arkansas Beekeeping Supply, Millie Green, Hope Church of Christ, Johnson Plumbing, Hardee Electric, Hempstead County Farm Bureau, Max Light, Bruce Ward, Dan Rorhbaugh, First National Bank of Tom Bean, and David “Bubba” Powers.
Also, Steve Wylie, Randell Spencer, Carrie Bobo, Ivan Smith Furniture, Dos Locos Gringos Restaurant, Tailgater’s Café, Mays Enterprises, Hempstead County Sheriff’s Department, Stroud Construction, ProCuts, Hollis Heating and Air, Ginger’s Salon, University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana, Susan Monroe, Jan Herring, Daniel Brown, Red River Heating and Air, Fulton Grass Co., New Millennium Building Systems, and Jack Easterling (Razorback Jack’s).