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Valley Home Dedicates New Community Park
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The new Valley Home Community Center Park on the corner of Pioneer and Minnesota Avenue in Valley Home was dedicated on June 18. It replaces the old Valley Home Clubhouse and features a pavilion, picnic benches, trees and shrubs. - photo by Dawn M. Henley/The Leader
Nearly five years in the making, Valley Home’s Community Center Park was dedicated on Saturday, June 18 with a few dozen residents who turned out for the event. The new park replaces the old Valley Home Clubhouse, which was razed approximately four years ago due to the inability to bring the dilapidated building up to code. A new covered structure with lighting and a concrete floor called the “pavilion” is the focal point of the park. New picnic tables, park benches, new chain link fencing, grass, shrubs and trees, boulders, a flagpole, dedication plaque, an irrigation system, and more make up the new park on the corner of Pioneer and Minnesota avenues across the street from the Valley Home School.
Project director and park committee chairperson Joe Perez, who has lived in Valley Home for 19 years, said he’s very proud of the project and that he’s “loved” being a part of it.
“We’ve had a lot of support. We’ve built it all from contributions and volunteer help,” Perez said. “…Everything was strategically planned so it would be here for a long time.”
He stated that many local people and businesses donated much of the landscaping and other necessities for the park. The Valley Home 4-H Club members did much of the planting. Fundraising efforts by Valley Home residents brought in more than $65,000 for the project.
Perez reported that he became involved in the project when residents Debbie Locker and Tammie Smith asked him to be on the committee to do something about the old clubhouse. He said he “jumped on the bandwagon” and in the end, the committee put together a plan for a community park because the clubhouse could not be saved.
The crowd gathered in the pavilion where they listened to DJ music while they chatted with neighbors and viewed in-progress photos of the new project and of the old clubhouse events. Perez talked to the gathered crowd and thanked many people who were involved and the various ways they contributed.
Municipal Advisory Council (MAC) chairperson Nancy Osmundson, along with Winnie Mullins and Kate Hart then took to the podium and honored Laura Burghardt for her contributions to the community with a bouquet of flowers and a Crepe Myrtle tree planted in her honor near a bench in the park. A tree was also planted in the park in Perez’ honor.
Hart expressed her appreciation for the new park and the event, noting that they were great for the community.
Local historian Glenn Burghardt also had his turn at the microphone and gave a historical account of how Valley Home evolved from its beginnings as a Mormon ranch, then a German establishment from 1903-1917 named “Thalheim,” which an early settler named after his hometown in Germany. Burghardt said the term meant valley home. The community’s clubhouse opened its doors in April of 1913, Burghardt said. He added that Thalheim’s name was changed when a United States government agent paid the burg a visit. Anti-German sentiment was high at the time because of World War I and the agent interviewed the pastor who spoke German. Burghardt noted that there were three requirements that came from the meeting: that church services be conducted in English, the community name be changed to Valley Home, and that the Germans in town sign a loyalty oath. He went on to talk about the clubhouse and its many activities and how the local 4-H Club tried to save it. Burghardt called the new park “the heart of Valley Home.”
After the speeches, Valley Home’s Jerome Family Catering (JFC) served up three kinds of marinated and barbecued meats – pork loin, chicken thighs, and New York Strip – all sliced for sandwiches, along with chili beans, and macaroni and potato salads for the hungry visitors who turned out for the park dedication.
Perez said there were many people who made the park project possible and while some of the committee members changed due to other commitments, he said that the people who’ve served on the committee were needed for their influence and for their knowledge.
The current committee is made up of Perez, Mike Tozzi, Sharon Furtado, Roger Beymer, Glenn Burghardt, and Valley Home 4-H member Cheyenne Chrisman.
Dignitaries who were at the event to show their support included County Supervisor Bill O’Brien, Sheriff Adam Christianson, Oakdale Mayor Pat Paul, and Valley Home Joint School District Superintendent/Principal Kevin Hart.