THROWBACK THURSDAY: 15 years ago this week, Jane's Park opens

Contributed article
Staff Writer

Editor’s note: 15 years ago this week, one of Bremen’s nicest amenities opened: Jane’s Park. To commemorate the anniversary, The Bremen Enquirer is re-running online the original article written by former Managing Editor Holly Heller that marked the event in 2000.

June would be ‘honored’ by park
Community pulls together to build Jane’s Park in five days
Dreams really do come true.
Just ask Linda Mullen-Clevenger and Rhonda McIntyre, two Bremen residents who dreamed of building a playground in honor of all mothers, especially Jane Sieg Stillson.
“Jane gave her life for her child. The least we could do is give one year of ours,” Mullen-Clevenger said.
Jane made the ultimate sacrifice when she declined breast cancer treatment in 1997 to save the life of her unborn child. She died in February 1999, survived by her husband, Tod Stillson of Plymouth, and her son, John, who is now 4, and daughter Jessica, who is now 2.
Jane’s mother, Mary Sieg, smiled through her tears upon completion of the playground, named Jane’s Park, on Sunday.
“It’s just beautiful,” Sieg said. “Jane would be honored. I think she’s looking down now, watching all the children’s joy and the pleasure that they’re receiving. It’s just really a dream.”
Construction was “99.9 percent” complete on Sunday, Mother’s Day, around 6 p.m. at the Woodies Lane location. MullenClevenger said a few words to a crowd of spectators before allowing the children to break through a paper chain and play inside Jane’s Park.
“Today is Mother’s Day. This park is for all mothers, especially Jane, but for all the mothers and their children. It’s a safe place for their children to play,” she said.
Jane’s Park was built in five days, strictly by volunteers.
“It’s an incredible feeling because this community pulled together so well and did something so wonderful,” Mullen-Clevenger said.
Even the children pitched in.
“I think for the future, the children will look back and say ‘I did this, and I put this up there,’” Sieg said. “This is something that their families will enjoy someday.”
Sieg enjoyed the carnival-like atmosphere at the construction site.
“Everybody’s just worked together. It’s almost like a big family-type adventure. I’m proud of everybody,” she said.
Patty Bowen, who coordinated the volunteers, said that an average of 305 people came out to help each of the five days, with Saturday’s total of 375 the most in one day and Sunday’s total of 215 the lowest.
“I’m really thrilled to death with the response. It’s overwhelming,” Bowen said.
Rain, wind and cool temperatures did not dampen spirits, according to Bowen.
“It was actually kind of fun, like being a little kid again and playing in the rain,” she said.
The army of volunteers was guided by Mullen-Clevenger and McIntyre, with help from volunteer crew leaders.
“I want to give so much credit to Rhonda and Linda,” Sieg said. “They gave their time, their jobs, their families. They had an idea, a dream.”
The dream is now a reality.
“We have a $100,000 park here at no expense to the taxpayers,” Mullen-Clevenger said. “It’s just been incredible. The response we’ve gotten, the participation. It’s been exciting.”
Jane’s Park was funded entirely by donations, which are still be accepted at 1st Source Bank and Taper Lock Credit Union.
“Hopefully everything will be covered,” Mullen-Clevenger said. “I think we’ll be able to get everything paid. I know we won’t have a penny to spare.”
Those wishing to help the park may do so by purchasing an engraved brick or attending a video presentation about Jane’s park and life.
“We will be accepting donations to watch that video, hopefully at the high school auditorium or movie theater,” Mullen-Clevenger said. “Bricks are still available for $100 at the Scrapbook Stop. If they buy them by the end of May they will be in by the dedication.”
The park will be officially dedicated to Jane Sieg Stillson on her birthdate, June 15.
Any money that comes in above and beyond the cost of the park will go into a permanent endowment fund through the Marshall County Community Foundation, and will be used for annual maintenance and upkeep.
“Every year, June 15 is going to be Jane’s Day and we’ll be able to come down here with some waterproofing sealer, some sanders and do some touch-up,” Mullen Clevenger said.
The Jane’s Park project was contracted through Leathers & Associates, Scott Smith, construction consultant, oversaw the Bremen project.
“It was great all along, it was a great group,” he said.
Jane’s Park is Smith’s third playground this year. He will oversee construction at 10 or 12 playgrounds this year, all across the country. Leathers & Associates, which was founded about 25 years ago, has completed about 1,800 projects to date.
“We’re in 49 states plus Canada, Australia, New Zealand. We do about 90 a year now, six or eight a week in the spring and fall.”