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‘Neighbors reaching out’ – Box-H Park playground equipment result of community effort


2024 Board Members: left to right, Jeff Page, Emily Martin, Secretary Sarah Hale, Chairman Dallan Tolman, Steve Parker. Not pictured: Susie Hokanson Treasurer, Val Bagley and Gaylyn Semadeni. (COURTESY PHOTOS)

It’s about the laughter. It’s about the memories — past and future. It’s about reaching out to your neighbor. It’s about building a community.

In essence, those were the motivations behind efforts to bring in new playground equipment for the Box-H Park in Fairview. A Monday, June 3, ribbon-cutting formally opened the new playground — two years in the making with fundraising activities including everything from selling a local cookbook and puzzles to hosting a drive-in theater and car show.

“It’s been an emotional two weeks, building the playground and seeing everyone come together to make that possible,” said board member Emily Martin, who helped spearhead the fundraising and installation of the new equipment. Once the park reopened, she added, “it has had this revolving door of people coming and enjoying it. That is so meaningful to me.

“The idea behind this project was just a dream,” Martin related, “and a goal of wanting to put life in the park. That’s been accomplished. People know about the park, and it shows by the number of people there using it now.”

And what is unique about the Box-H Park, said park board Chairman Sarah Hale, is there are no tax dollars involved.

One of the events held to raise funds was a car show and corn hole tournament.

“The Box-H Park has been a part of Fairview for generations,” Hale told SVI Media. “It is run by a volunteer board of directors. It is 100 percent funded through donations. We are not part of a tax district, and there are zero tax dollars that support this park.

“People donate their time, talents, money and energy to keep this park running year to year. We so appreciate the dedication and devotion people have for this wonderful place. And we invite you to come and enjoy what our park has to offer. We will see you at the Box H.”

Families came together to take out two semi loads of wood chips over a 108’ x 52’ area.

During her ribbon-cutting speech, Hale expressed gratitude for all — entities and individuals — who donated toward the total cost of the new playground. Those donations included $10,000 from the Wyoming Community Foundation, $25,000 from DoTerra, and $21,000 from Lincoln County Recreation Commission. The remaining $36,000 of the total cost of $92,000 came from local support for fund-raising efforts, including an online auction.

But perhaps the greater inspiration behind the Box-H story are the accounts of individual efforts — and just plain sweat. Martin lauded the more than 500 total working hours community members put into installing the equipment and cleaning up the park for its opening. Some told Martin the project — the vision — was just too big. It couldn’t be done. Even the park equipment installation company told her the equipment couldn’t be assembled in the board’s timeframe — basically one day.

But, as Martin pointed out, naysayers didn’t anticipate the uniqueness of Fairview — of “neighbors reaching out past selves.”

Michell Heiner, Fairview community member and arctic of the cookbook artwork.

Volunteers, Martin related, spent a Thursday and Friday in May unwrapping all the equipment delivered by semi-trucks. On Friday night, a crew of five drilled the holes and set the foundations. Then Saturday, some 20 guys, all skilled workers from the community, spent some 16 hours putting it all together — every nut and bolt, swing and slide.

The inspector from the equipment company, Martin said, chuckling, kept taking photos with his cell phone and texting colleagues, “You wouldn’t believe how much we’ve accomplished!”

Thus, in one day, the equipment was up. Martin lauded the some 30 to 40 volunteers, including a local church youth group, who followed for a couple days of raking woodchips into the play areas and generally cleaning the park up for its opening.

“There’s something really special about the park,” Martin said, her voice breaking with emotion. She tenderly spoke of the Star Valley community, whose members show up “and make things happen. They are hardworking and service-oriented people.”

The history of the Box-H Park shows that same community-mindedness. The name of the park speaks for itself. In 1980, local bachelor Hugh Bagley donated $10,000 to the park for installation of a pavilion and bathrooms. Box-H was his ranching brand. At the time, the land was owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with the Fairview Ward overseeing the property. A contest was held, and Box-H was chosen as the park’s name, in honor of Bagley. In 1992, the church divested the property to the community.

The annual Pioneer Day Celebration is one of the biggest events. Park volunteers sold dinner, lunch and other concessions. The day kicks off with a parade. (PHOTO BY CAROLYN GORDON)

In 2022, Martin and Hale discussed the possibility of new playground equipment. The idea, ironically, sprouted from Martin’s son falling on old playground equipment and breaking his leg. In addition, the old equipment was metal, making it too hot in the summer to play during the heat of the day. Thus, a board was created, along with 501(c)(3) status. The 2024 Box-H board includes Jeff Page; Emily Martin, secretary; Sarah Hale, chairman; Dallan Tolman; Steve Parker; Suzie Hokanson; treasurer, Val Bagley; and Gaylyn Semadeni.

Recently, Martin had what you’d call a “payday.” Her son, Chase, the one who broke his leg, had a field trip with his Osmond Elementary class to the Box-H Park. It was an end-of-year celebration, with the kids riding their bikes to play on the new equipment. Martin volunteered as a “class mom.”

Drive-in Movies were born the fall of 2022 in an effort to raise funds. An idea suggested by late board member Robert Beus.

“They were excited to be there,” Martin said, “just watching them play — the laughter as they would run across the bridges and spin each other on the tire swings. It’ just a happy place to be.”

That connection — that community — is “what’s unique about the Box-H.”

Editor’s note: Some historical material for this article came from the history printed in the Box-H Park cookbook. For future events at the Box-H, see


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