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Andes Central High School students wave to Reader's Digest public affairs executive Gary Davis on Wednesday during an online video chat. Lake Andes placed fifth in the Reader's Digest We Hear You America contest and was awarded $10,000 to renovate an aging public park. (Chris Mueller/Republic)
Andes Central High School students wave to Reader's Digest public affairs executive Gary Davis on Wednesday during an online video chat. Lake Andes placed fifth in the Reader's Digest We Hear You America contest and was awarded $10,000 to renovate an aging public park. (Chris Mueller/Republic)

'Can-do' spirit helps Lake Andes renovate park

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life Mitchell, 57301
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

LAKE ANDES -- A Reader's Digest official said Wednesday the accomplishment of Lake Andes residents was "an example of the can-do American spirit."

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The comment was made shortly after students, staff and other locals gathered in the lunchroom of Andes Central High School to be part of an online video chat with Reader's Digest public affairs executive Gary Davis.

Lake Andes placed fifth in the We Hear You America contest held by Reader's Digest. The contest awarded money to fund community improvement projects in the 18 cities and towns that received the most votes.

Lake Andes received more than 1.3 million votes and was awarded $10,000 last week to help fund a renovation of its ailing public park, said Lake Andes Park Project committee member Patti Ronfeldt.

The committee has been raising money since March 2011 to update the town's aging public park, which was built 50 years ago.

"This is a perfect example of what we're trying to accomplish," Davis said. "We hope that you can continue to do great things."

Ronfeldt said she was extremely happy with the result of the contest.

"Every time we look at this park, we're going to think of (Reader's Digest) and the contribution you made to our community," she told Davis.

Ronfeldt said park renovations are scheduled to begin with the removal of all the old park equipment on July 14 and 15, followed by the installation of new equipment on Sept. 7 through Sept. 9.

The state National Guard has agreed to help perform the renovation, Ronfeldt said.

"The children will have a safe place to play and our families will have a place to gather," she said of her hope for the park's future. "I do think the usage of the park is going to be a lot more than it currently is."

The total cost of the project will be approximately $90,000, Ronfeldt said. The Lake Andes Park Project committee has raised $23,000 on its own and was awarded another $15,000 grant from KaBOOM!, which is a national organization that helps diverse, low-income communities build playgrounds, in addition to the $10,000 Reader's Digest grant.

Lake Andes Mayor Dan Park told Davis the We Hear You America contest got the Lake Andes community working together.

"This hasn't been one step toward our goal, but a giant leap," Park said.

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