Buy a personalized picket and support Mountains of Fun playground in Healy. Kris Capps/News-Miner

HEALY— Mountains of Fun playground in Healy is selling personalized pickets for the surrounding fence, in an attempt to raise money to help maintain the playground, which has no regular funding source.

The playground is located just down the road from Tri-Valley School and on the hillside above the Tri-Valley Community Center and Ice Pit. It was created by volunteers more than 20 years ago and includes playground equipment, a covered pavilion and a volleyball court. It is a popular site for children’s birthday parties during summer months.

For all these years, the playground has been maintained by vigilant volunteers Renee and Baxter Mercer.

“I’ve been doing it since Monica was three years old,” said Renee Mercer. Her daughter, Monica, is now in her early 20s.

It is not an easy task. Playground equipment is sometimes vandalized. The Mercers regularly empty garbage cans, when users do not take their trash with them. They personally provide garbage bags for the trash cans and empty them two or three times a week.

“There used to be a teeter-totter there, but it got too dangerous,” Mercer said. It was used improperly by older kids and broke. The Mercers welded it back together twice. They finally removed it after it got harder to repair jagged edges.

Renee Mercer hopes the expanded fence will help to beautify the playground. Funds from the pickets will also pay to replace or fix picnic tables and pay for the varnish.

“We’ve been building the wooden part of the fence as we went along,” she said. “I just want the place to look nice and have stuff to play on.”

Each picket is $50 and has room for 14 letters and spaces, whether it is a name or a business. You can send your order to Mountains of Fun Playground, Inc. at P.O. Box 504, Healy, AK 99743. Donations are tax-deductible.

So far, about 30 orders are in. The deadline to order is July 31.

Mercer intends to order the pickets from Rivers Wood Products, because of that business’s strong support of the playground in the past.

She stencils the letters on each picket and a local GVEA employee, who would only give his name as James, routs the letters on each picket. According to Meadow Bailey at GVEA, all GVEA employees get eight hours a year to use for community service. This fulfills one of GVEA’s principals: “Care for Community - recognizing that community-owned cooperatives should work for the sustainable development of our communities.”

“Employees can use the hours as they choose,” Bailey said. “From volunteering at food banks to helping in community gardens to participating in local clean-up efforts each spring.”

Or even helping create personalized pickets for the playground.

Mercer will prepare the pickets and Baxter Mercer will build the fence.

“They will be put up and varnished by sometime in September,” Renee Mercer said. “My dream is to have the fence with pickets and everybody in the community surrounding the playground.”

She continues asking the community for help in maintaining the playground and reminds playground users to take their trash with them.

Reach columnist/community editor Kris Capps at kcapps@newsminer.com. Follow her on Twitter @FDNMKris.