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A Walk for a park

Walkers at the Hometown Service Coalition’s 2nd Annual Community Day and 5K Fun Walk at Ralph Stout Park in Mountain City, TN, on Saturday, June 4. Photo by Dan Cullinane


Hometown Service Coalition and Johnson County residents join forces to rebuild the skate park at Ralph Stout Park


By Dan Cullinane
Freelance Writer

An acoustic cover of Purple Rain, performed on stage by Randy Dandurand, provided a surprisingly effective soundtrack as volunteers registered the 200 walkers assembling at Ralph Stout Park for the Hometown Service Coalition’s 2nd Annual Community Day 5K Fun Walk.
John Kucher, his brother Kevin, and their friends Juan Rodriguez and Chris Reece were helping direct traffic, but their efforts to rebuild the skate park at Ralph Stout Park is also one of the main focuses of HSC’s fundraising efforts this year.
Kucher had contacted City Hall about the issue, and when board member Flo Bellamy heard about it, she connected Kucher with HSC, and the project took off. “It’s a good sport for people, open to all ages,” Kucher said of his desire to renovate the park. “It’s good for your mental health, helps clear your mind.”
“If you get a chance today, walk over to the skate park and ask yourself if there isn’t some way we could improve that,” said John Cunningham, the President of the Board at Hometown Service Coalition, as he waited to take the stage and welcome the walkers. Observing the growing crowd, he seemed pleased. “It’s going great. Everyone’s working together and having a lot of fun. We’re gonna be right at our goal.”
The theme of community extended to the upcoming elections as well. Candidates for the local county elections and those running to represent Johnson County in Nashville were on hand as part of the event. “It is important to us to both provide the candidates an opportunity to introduce themselves and provide the community an opportunity to hear what they have to say for themselves,” said J.C. Lowe, vice-president of the Board at HSC. “We want to see this community develop in a positive manner, and we believe that being involved and participating in the democratic process is important.”
Tate Davis, Eric Garland, Larry Potter, Mark Gladden, and Scott Mast all took to the stage to make their case to be county mayor, as did Rusty Crowe and Kate Craig, running for State Senate. They were grateful for the opportunity to reach out to Johnson County voters, but all of them set aside their competition and united behind the community energy and collective purpose that defined the day. Harold Thornquest, manning the booth at the Johnson County Democrats, had nothing to say about politics but was enthusiastic about HSC. “We’re here to support our community; whether it’s Cunningham Park or the skate park, there need to be activities for kids in Johnson County.”
Davis, a former board member, says he was sold on day one on the vision of HSC. “One of my life accomplishments will be to have been on that board. It’s that important what this organization is doing. What it’s accomplished and the pride it’s restoring to our community is tremendous.”
After finishing the walk, Kate Craig, who is running for State Senate, was all around the park, meeting people, watching the entertainment, and enjoying the day. “I absolutely loved the event, she said. “I loved doing the 5K and getting to be a part of this fundraiser to help revitalize the park and the skate park and invest in the pool because I think what the Hometown Service Coalition is doing here is amazing, and I just want to support their efforts.”
Towards the end of the day, HSC’s Secretary Kim Reece took the stage to hand out awards to Danny Herman Trucking for having the largest team and to First United Methodist Church for raising the most money as a team. First United Methodist Church also took home the award for the most spirited team.
When HSC Board
Member Flo Bellamy presented Randy Dandurand with his award for Volunteer of the Year, he dedicated his entire speech to praising Bellamy’s efforts at the Community Center. That sense of self-forgetting and celebrating what is best in our community had been omnipresent from the beginning of the day, and now as the event wound down, it could be seen clearly on the faces of these two friends as they recognized one another on stage.