NASCAR drivers David Gilliland and Travis Kvapil had just arrived outside Lowe's YMCA, when they were handed a drill, tape measure and strips of deck material.
"They didn't waste any time putting us to work," Gilliland said with a smile.
The drivers for Statesville-based Front Row Motorsports with Yates Racing joined scores of other volunteers last week to build Hope Park, a 20,000-square-foot, motorsports-themed playground for all Lake Norman-area families.
The five-day build concludes today, although surfacing the park and building its memorial garden will take at least two more weeks, said Sarah Dumser of Mooresville. She led the effort, which has involved about 900 volunteers.
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An official opening ceremony is planned for April 17.
The smell of sawdust and sounds of saws and drills filled the air on the opening day of the build Wednesday, as teams of volunteers went right to their tasks.
They came from NASCAR shops, service clubs, churches and various local businesses, all with the single aim of putting up a one-of-a-kind park for children and adults of all ages and abilities.
Top national swimmers from Charlotte-based SwimMAC Carolina's Team Elite pitched in, as did Kelli Stoup of Mooresville, who showed up with her work gloves and boots and dug foundation holes all morning. "I'm just a mom who thinks this is a great cause," she said.
Sixty vendors, including 45 Mooresville-area restaurants, contributed to the 3,000 meals, 2,000 snacks and 3,000 to 4,000 drinks for volunteers. Chefs such as Cliff Cameron of Mooresville-based Red Bull Racing prepared meals throughout the week.
Dumser surveyed the dozens of volunteers already hard at work by 10 a.m. and could hardly believe it.
"Spectacular," said Dumser, whose father, the late Doug Shierson, won two SCCA championship titles as a driver and later became an Indy 500-winning CART team owner. "Beyond my expectations."
And pleasant surprises kept rolling in throughout the week.
The night before the start of the build, Dumser got a call from Cecile Ebert of Mooresville: Her Ebert Charitable Foundation was awarding a $50,000 grant over two years for Hope Park's phase II water park.
On Wednesday night, a silent auction at the nearby Duckworth's eatery raised thousands of dollars more for Hope Park. NASCAR drivers Kasey Kahne, Martin Truex and Tony Stewart were among the racing notables whose foundations contributed items to the benefit.
For more details about the park and how to contribute, visit www.buildhopepark.org.
Key intersection closing temporarily
CORNELIUS Work on a 24-inch water line will require the closing of the Catawba Avenue-N.C. 115 intersection Tuesday through March 25.
The intersection will be closed to extend the line from the railroad tracks to a line on Catawba Avenue. Traffic will be re-routed via Mulberry, Oak, Hickory and Zion streets.
The project schedule and detour map is at www.cornelius.org/tprojects.html.
Task force on water bills to report findings
CORNELIUS A task force examining high customer water bills from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities will present its findings at 5 p.m. Monday Cornelius Town Hall, 21445 Catawba Ave.
Kannapolis getting first community garden
KANNAPOLIS The city is about to get its first community garden.
The Kannapolis Environmental Stewardship Commission and the congregation of First Wesleyan Church will establish the garden on church property beside the Cabarrus Arms neighborhood.
The garden will be divided into 50 plots, said Karen Whichard, Kannapolis communications director. Plots will be 10 feet by 10 feet, 10 feet by 15 feet and 10 feet by 30 feet. Lot sizes will be distributed based on family size and need, Whichard said.
Groundbreaking is scheduled for April 24 as part of Earth Day festivities.
James Matchette, First Wesleyan Church pastor, said the timing is also great as the church celebrates its centennial.
Community gardens teach youths valuable skills, he said. They encourage relationship building with neighbors and improve the environment, he said.
Renee Goodnight, the city's community outreach coordinator, said such gardens also beautify neighborhoods, reduce family food costs and help create healthier meals.
To learn more about obtaining a plot, contact the First Wesleyan Church office at 704-932-8308 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or attend a community informational meeting at 7 p.m. March 25 at First Wesleyan, 301 Bethpage Road in Kannapolis.