• 64°

First Methodist dedicates ‘The Williams Playground’

By Mark Wineka

mark.wineka@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — When the greeting, prayers, Scripture, acknowledgements and official words of dedication for a new playground have all been said, what’s next?

“All right, kids,” the Rev. Dr. Mark Conforti said. “Time to play.”

And so opened on Sunday First United Methodist Church’s new children’s playground along South Church Street, not too far from the West Bank Street corner.

Not only will children of the First Methodist preschool, daycare center and congregation in general enjoy the playground, it’s open to the community as well, Conforti said.

It features a bouncy, rubberized surface for soft landings, playground equipment for preschoolers to middle schoolers and a redwood pergola for shade. The playground and some of its equipment also are accessible to the physically disabled.

Natural stone borders the play area and beyond that an attractive fence.

A sitting wall near the South Church Street entrance will serve as a nice waiting area for preschoolers being picked up by parents in the late morning.

The playground will be called “The Williams Playground,” a tribute to the late Robert Neal Williams Sr. and Monice Brown Williams by their three children, Robert Neal Williams Jr., Monice Williams Gerald and Bradley Steven Williams.

Bradley Williams played a key role in guiding the construction of the project, as did folks such as Kate Goodman, Victor Smith of Landscape Concepts and Central Piedmont Builders, the general contractor.

Conforti also praised past trustee chairmen Bob Roakes and Mel Smith and current chairman Staton Carter for their work on the project.

A gift from the estate of Peggy Glasco was instrumental in the playground, which had to overcome troublesome drainage issues.

“This church has meant a lot to our family through the years,” said Monice Williams Gerald, who now lives in Myrtle Beach. Four generations of Williamses, starting with her grandparents, have attended First Methodist.

Monice pointed over to retired pastor Bill Osborne, who had come to First Methodist Church long ago as a 25-year-old. He confirmed her, Monice said, as well as christened her child, married her and served at the funerals of both her parents.

Robert Neal Williams Sr. died in December of 2008 and Monice Brown Williams passed away almost three years ago in 2014. Monice Williams taught school her whole life, so the playground was a fitting tribute, given her strong connection to children.

Her parents would have been humbled and surprised to think anything would be named in their honor, Monice Gerald said, adding it always is “an incredible feeling” to return to her home church at First Methodist.

“This church put down many roots for us,” she said. “Our ties to this church run very deep.”

Bradley Williams’ children, 12-year-old Courtney and 9-year-old Meredith, helped at the dedication by reading the Scripture and cutting the ribbon before the playground was opened.

In his opening prayer, Conforti asked that the playground “be a place where all children may experience hospitality, fellowship and peace.”

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.

 

Comments

Elections

NC elections board, Republicans at odds over absentee ballot rule changes

News

Voters struggling with witness rules in early voting

News

Trump expected to announce conservative Amy Coney Barrett for Supreme Court

Coronavirus

County reports COVID-19 percent positive rate of 8%

Local

Rowan County United Way sets $1.5 million goal at drive-in kickoff event

Crime

Blotter: Adult daughters accused of beating up mother

China Grove

China Grove firefighters injured after engine overturns

Business

Salisbury VA to reopen entry, exit gates

Crime

Sheriff’s Office looking for suspect in Burlington Coat Factory theft

Elections

Requests for absentee ballots top 9,000 in Rowan

Local

Spencer approves supplemental USDA loan for Park Plaza project

Business

11 locals will make up Empire Redevelopment Task Force

Local

New finance director excited to prove himself, continue on path set by predecessor

Coronavirus

County health officials report four new COVID-19 deaths

Elections

Trump promotes health care ‘vision’ at stop in Charlotte but gaps remain

Crime

Blotter: Woman charged with stealing mom’s dog

Business

Rowan County hires Howden as new finance director

Local

Exhibit about Jim Crow-era travel on display at NC Transportation Museum

Elections

GOP elections board members resign over absentee settlement

Crime

Drive-by shooting injures 24-year-old Salisbury man

Crime

Highway Patrol: Vehicle fled after striking, killing pedestrian on Camp Road

Local

Locals to be inducted into NC Military Veterans Hall of Fame

Business

Fall fun, with a twist: Patterson Farm adjusts to guidelines, offers new version of traditional events

Nation/World

Sayers, Piccolo friendship lives on in ‘Brian’s Song’