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Serenity garden takes root in community park

August 25, 2018

PILGER — The community park in the heart of Pilger was an oasis for residents to gather in the aftermath of a tornado that hit the community four years ago.

Today, there is once again an oasis in the center of the Pilger Park, thanks to the efforts of Grace Steinmeyer of Wisner.

She calls the spot the Pilger Serenity Garden, a wooden park bench in the center of a square with a wooden arbor overhead for shade. It will soon be surrounded by flowers.

The placement of the garden may qualify Steinmeyer for a Girl Scouts of America Gold Award. It’s the highest award a Girl Scout can earn, the equivalent of an Eagle Scout award in the boys’ scouting program.

Steinmeyer, who will be a senior at Wisner-Pilger Schools, has spent 13 years in the girls’ scouting program, beginning as a Daisy when she was a kindergartner.

Her Girl Scout leader is Jenn Keller of Wisner. Grace is the daughter of Russell and Amy Steinmeyer.

Steinmeyer designed the park as a place for Pilger residents and visitors to sit and recall their favorite memories, before and after the storm hit, and also to move ahead and create new memories.

She chose Pilger as the site of her Girl Scout project because she attended pre-school at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Pilger, and played tee-ball and took swimming lessons at the nearby ballpark and pool.

Originally, Steinmeyer wanted to model the spot after a gazebo situated on Beemer’s Main Street.

But that proved too costly to build such a large structure. Instead, she approached the Pilger village board in April 2017 with the idea of a smaller project.

Once the idea was approved, Steinmeyer went to work raising funds and resources for the project. She solicited donations of baked goods and other items to sell at craft fairs and other events in the Pilger, Wisner and West Point areas.

She wrote a number of grant applications to area foundations and organizations. She asked the Wisner-Pilger Industrial Arts class to construct the wooden arbor, or arch, to place over the bench, under the direction of the class’s instructor, Jerrod Bazata. Max Schroeder of Pilger built the bench.

Other residents of the community were involved as well.

For example, Austin Lampmann headed up a crew to move the arbor to its new location, and Tim Jensen led a crew to set everything in place. Others helped during a workday on July 9, including students and instructors from Wisner-Pilger Schools.

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