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    Teenage foreman steers playground to completion

    The Tarpon Springs youth takes charge of the project from the design stage.

    By KATHERINE GAZELLA

    © St. Petersburg Times, published August 19, 2000


    Brandon was in charge of the job to build the playground equipment behind the Police Department's Cops & Kids youth center on Harrison Street in Tarpon Springs. He organized the entire event, from finding the design for the playground to ordering materials, all to fulfill a requirement for becoming an Eagle Scout.

    The Tarpon Springs teenager, who will be a freshman at Palm Harbor University High School in the fall, has worked on the project since spring.

    "He's worked his butt off," Tarpon Springs police Chief Mark LeCouris said.

    Until now, the youth center only has had a small plastic slide and climbing set in the back yard. Kids could play basketball or play games inside, but the back yard didn't have much to offer the dozens of children who play at the center.

    When Brandon was looking for a way to complete the community service portion of the Eagle Scout requirements, he got in touch with the police chief. LeCouris offered several ideas, the most ambitious of which was the playground. Brandon chose that one.

    He looked on the Internet for playground designs, and he and the chief settled on one with a wooden frame, a tire swing, two wave slides, a tube slide and an 8-foot by 8-foot platform. It also has two swings and a trapeze.

    "The chief said, "Pick things you would like,' " Brandon said.

    The equipment was paid for by a grant the police department received. LeCouris said it was on the department's wish list for a while, but nobody ever had time to arrange for it to be built.

    LeCouris was happy that Brandon came along, not just because he worked so hard on the project but also because he had an eye for choosing playground equipment that children will enjoy.

    "Who better to design it than a kid himself?" LeCouris said.

    - Staff writer Katherine Gazella can be reached at (727) 445-4182 or gazella@sptimes.com.


    The Tarpon Springs youth takes charge of the project from the design stage.

    TARPON SPRINGS -- About a dozen volunteers, most of them adults, spent Friday afternoon setting up big, wooden pieces of playground equipment, but they looked to their 13-year-old leader for guidance at nearly every move.

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