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February 16, 2000

Commendations and other expressions of appreciation to our city street and parks department workers. Now that our once-a-year snowstorm has come and gone, leaving behind a new generation of chug holes in these poor old beat-up streets, the department's people and trucks are busily occupied with a major repair job. It's helping a lot. The patchwork being applied may not be acceptable to some as the final solution, but it beats dodging those dangerous holes in virtually every Perry block. And in an unrelated project, the CCC Park is being spruced up starting at the front gate and moving all the way back to that fence line on the east border.

Several opinions have been expressed recently concerning the CCC Park's run-down condition, so it's good to see some work going on out there. Roads have been greatly improved, although they still need to be sealed to provide some degree of permanence to the surface. The most visible change is a result of an expanded mowing and cleanup program. Waist-high weeds, left over from last summer, have been cleared off, along with many snaggletooth trees. As a result the park seems more inviting than it has in years. The road to the north face of the dam across the CCC Park Lake also has been cleared to provide access to a wonderful and secluded little flat area that seems ideally suited for picnics or other family get-togethers.

Yes, a lot of work remains to be done, but by the time spring comes along we will have a much improved playground for the free use of local citizens. I remember at least one recent Letter to the Editor of this newspaper offered that writer's services as a member of a panel that would coordinate uses of the park and its facilities, and I'm sure others would be willing to join in an effort like that. Hopefully, such voluntary offers of help will be taken seriously.

The nagging problem that still defies a solution is what to do with the so-called church on a perch now located on a scenic promontory at the CCC Park. The historic old wooden building was hauled out to the park at some expense a couple of years ago. Funds for the move were raised privately by a group interested in historic preservation, headed by the late Bill Haynes. Those who assisted had the expectation that it would be used for many things such as weddings, receptions, and summer worship services, among others. The fragile old structure was mounted on a foundation of hand-hewn sand stone, just like it was originally in the early days of this Cherokee Strip city. Sadly, it has never been used for anything except a haven for rodents and other wildlife. Vandals seem to be engaged in an agonizing process of dismantling the building. Pieces of it flap precariously in the wind, windows have been boarded up and in general it looks very sad.

The building once served as a sanctuary for the local Episcopal church, and it is believed to be the oldest original church structure still in existence in Perry. If you'll recall, a few years ago we located the original Perry Land Office building, and plans were being carried out to restore it on the grounds of the Cherokee Strip Museum. Wind damage shattered that dream, and another tangible piece of our history was reduced to rubble. Someone with the vision and energy of Bill Haynes needs to tackle this church on a perch project and see that it is carried out to completion, or another link with our fascinating history will be lost forever.