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Rotary Club of Crook County and Crook County On The Move team up to add benches at the Crooked River Wetland Complex

PHOTO SUBMITTED BY GARY GOODMAN - Crook County Rotarians and members of Crook County On The Move celebrate the completion of 10 park benches at the Wetlands. The benches are spaced 300 feet apart around two loops to encourage people to explore the area. Pictured back row, left to right, are Prineville Mayor Steve Uffelman, Ken Fahlgren, Bill Zelenka, Todd Flack and Oliver Wisseman. Pictured front row, left to right, are Wyatt Fahlgren, Sally Goodman, Donna Barnes and project manager Carol Benkosky.

Visitors to the Crooked River Wetlands Complex will now have a few places to sit and rest as they enjoy the trails that surround the local park.

Crook County Rotary Club and Crook County On The Move recently finished their latest installment of local age-friendly park benches in Prineville. The organizations teamed up to add 10 new park benches at the wetland, which makes two loops of the facility more accessible.

"These benches are for people who are just getting started with an exercise or program, are recovering from and illness or injury, or like to know there is a place to sit whenever they get tired while walking" said Carol Benkosky, Project Coordinator.

The benches are placed every 300 feet, are made of plastic seating and have handrails both on the ends and the middle to aid in standing. There is also space next to each bench for wheelchairs. The two loops allow for short 0.3-mile walks or up to 0.7-mile walks if people take the outer loop.

"If funding can be found we would love to add more widely spaced benches that allow people to graduate to longer walks while knowing there will still be a place to rest if needed," Benkosky added.

Benkosky said the wetlands benches could not have been accomplished without support from the City of Prineville, particularly Jason Wood, whom she said "was such a wonderful partner during the process." "He and his crews stepped up during the COVID-19 shut down to build the benches and install the pads while Rotarians were in lockdown," she said.

Funding for the benches came from Rotary Club of Crook County, Rotary District 5110 and from a donor who wishes to remain anonymous.

A partnership between Rotary and Crook County On The Move, these same park benches can be found along the 1.5-mile Ochoco Creek pathway and at the community splash pad.

Donna Barnes, Crook County On The Move's Chair, points out that "adding a simple brisk daily walk into our lifestyle helps us stay mentally, emotionally and physically healthy. These benches make it easier for us to build consistent daily activity into our life, and walking is the perfect way to enjoy friendships and nature while we reach that goal."

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