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Park Square Fitness Center opens; riders enjoy the gazebo swing

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Jaelynn, 11, with her mom and grandmother take the first gazebo swing ride.

On a cool, sunny day last Saturday, the first official ribbon cutting for the Park Square Fitness Center was held in Forest City. The Center is located at the Thermal Belt Rail Trail near the Pavilion on Park Square (POPS).

The brief ceremony led by Mayor Steve Holland, Town Manager Dr. Janet Mason and Chamber of Commerce Director Clark Poole, included the recognition of donors that contributed to the funding for the adult fitness stations and the gazebo swing.

The adult fitness stations and the gazebo swing were generously provided by the following families and organizations in appreciation of the citizens of Forest City: the North Carolina Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) Drop-In Food Stores, Major Lee's, Main Street Insurance Group, Smith's Drugs, the Matthew Pannell Shining Star Foundation, the Lee and Mary Harrill family and the John and Jade Harrill family.

Mason thanked the "fabulous employees" of the Town of Forest City and also recognized John Condrey, former town manager, for his role in the development of the rail trail and amenities in the Town of Forest City.

Town Commissioners attending Saturday's ceremony were Shawn Moore and Justin Conner.

Mayor Holland asked the crowd to "go back just two years and there was nothing here." Today there is the Rail Trail, POPS and the fitness center.

"We still have a lot to do and I can't wait to see what two or three years will do," Holland said.

The gazebo swing for handicapped or wheelchair dependent adults or children was a gift to the town from the Matthew Pannell Shining foundation. Cosmo and Joni Pannell, Matthew's parents, attended and thanked those who made the swing possible.

He said in his prayer of dedication that something as simple as a swing or playground can change somebody's life.

The first person to swing was Jaelynn, 11, accompanied by her mother, Amy Hannon and grandmother Teresa Glover, who rode in seats beside her.

"Jaelynn is totally dependent on her wheelchair and this is the only swing like this in the region," a beaming Amy said.

The wheelchair is rolled onto the platform without the person having to leave the wheelchair.

Chuck Sane, who also contributed to the gazebo swing, took a ride in his wheelchair with the Pannells in the other seats.

"I'm in my second childhood," Sane called from the swing.

Numerous donors, friends and other family attended the ribbon cutting.

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