A Proud Moment as Ground Is Broken on Walker County Centennial Park

Willie Moore III, Jasper City Councilor, speaks during the groundbreaking ceremony at the Walker County Centennial Park.

It was a hot day in Jasper as Willie Moore III, standing in the sun, pushed up his browline glasses and revealed a grin.

Representing the Jasper City Council, Moore was participating in the official groundbreaking for Walker County Centennial Park, one of six community parks to be built by United Way of Central Alabama (UWCA) in each of the six counties the organization serves. The parks project is in celebration of UWCA’s 100th anniversary and is a “thank you” for each community’s support through the years.

Moore’s broad smile was not only because of progress for his city, but because of his personal history with the land. You see, the site of the park is the soccer field across from the Heidelberg Materials concrete plant on 26th Street East. And before taking on his current role as City Councilor for District 5, Moore had a 30-year career with the City’s Parks and Recreation Department, eventually becoming Director before retiring in 2016.

He said that he was motivated for all those years by witnessing the joy on people’s faces as a result of his work maintaining sports fields and public spaces where people go for recreation and, sometimes, even milestone memories.

“Take baseball, as an example,” Moore said. “That first hit that a kid gets or the first time that kid catches the ball or gets on base, you see the biggest smile.”

As part of Walker County Centennial Park, that soccer field on 26th Street will be revitalized and restriped. There will also be a new walking track, a children’s play area featuring standard, toddler and accessible swings and a seesaw, picnic tables and a pavilion that can function as an outdoor classroom.

“I just can’t thank United Way enough for making this possible,” Moore said. “I think it’ll be a beautification and an enhancement for the community, and I’m definitely glad and proud that someone has shown interest in the District 5 area to make this possible.”

Among the many community members present at the groundbreaking were: State Rep. Matt Woods; Jasper Mayor David O’Mary; Linda Lewis, President of the Chamber of Commerce of Walker County; Jasper City Council President Jenny Short; and Council member Jennifer Smith.

O’Mary said he was happy to see that the effort was underway.

“This facility will provide recreational opportunities for many, many folks for years to come,” O’Mary said. “I’m pleased the City of Jasper had real estate really suitable for this project and that we have the workforce to look after it, to take care of it and have a facility that we can be proud of.”

O’Mary, who previously served as Chair of his county’s United Way Campaign, said he has had a long relationship with the organization, a relationship which has been “enriching.”

“United Way has been good to this community,” O’Mary said.

Drew Langloh, President and CEO of UWCA, said the Jasper community has been deeply involved in the process of developing the plan for this park and thanked them for their dedication.

“Thank you to the City of Jasper and all the folks here for being such great partners in making this kind of community work easy and fun and beneficial to all involved,” Langloh said. “Thank you to all involved, particularly Mayor O’Mary, for your participation and support for this project.”

Construction of the park will bring community members together from the very beginning, as it will take the work of about 300 volunteers who will become personally engaged in making it a reality.

“Over time, we engage many people in the community, and we try to engage local businesses in supporting the park as well, and it becomes a community asset,” Langloh said. “It’s something that the community goes by and says, ‘I did that. I was part of that.’”

Construction of the park will bring community members together from the very beginning, as it will take the work of about 300 volunteers who will become personally engaged in making it a reality.

For information about volunteering at the Walker County Centennial Park, go to https://uwca.givepulse.com/event/452745-Walker-County-Centennial-Park.

To learn more about all the Centennial Parks, visit www.uwca.org/100years/parks.