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McKinley Park duo named Citizens of the Year

Published: Monday, Nov. 12, 2012 11:48 a.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Nov. 12, 2012 12:00 p.m. CDT

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It started more than 20 years ago.

John Kawa and Gary Borcherding coached seventh-, eighth- and ninth-grade boys baseball and they have been working together to make improvements to McKinley Park even since.

That’s the main reason they have been selected to share the honor of being Creston’s 2012 citizens of the year.

“We coached Little League together for 10 years, and we fixed McKinley Ball Field up,” said Kawa. “That was 20 years ago. We’ve been in McKinley for a long time.”

Kawa has been a member of the Creston Park and Recreation Board of Directors 11 years, 10 of those as its chairman. Borcherding joined the board nine years ago and serves as its treasurer.

Borcherding said, as organizers, they have accomplished a lot with the help of others.

“The overall (park improvement) project — I think the way the volunteers and businesses in town have come together to help us out,” said Borcherding. “None of the projects were what we could do on our own. It’s all been with the support of the whole community.”

Kawa said it takes a lot of leg work to accomplish a project this large.

“We kind of line things up and get people to help us,” he said. “That’s what it amounts to. If we’re good at something, it’s getting other people to help and getting things organized.”

Kawa and Borcherding have both lived in Creston all of or most of their lives and remember what the park once was.

“I grew up on Myrtle Street,” Borcherding said. “We used to go down there a lot. We only lived three, four blocks from the park, so we spent a lot of time there growing up.”

At one time there was water skiing and paddle boats on the lake.

“I fished there as a kid,” Kawa said. “I rode my bicycle there — with the Stingray handle bars and all that good stuff. I spent the day fishing and carousing around. There was just a lot of stuff to do there. Yeah, I’ve been there forever.”

Progress has been made on the park project in the past years.

“We’ve done six or seven things out there that put the park back to what it used to be,” said Kawa. “It was pretty shaky there about 12 years ago.”

Kawa said the goal is to eventually dredge the lake, improve water quality and bring it back to what it was.

“The end result is dredging that lake. That’s what we’re shooting for,” said Kawa. “Everything else is just manicuring it to look nice so we can go after grants and do the things we can’t do without big money.”

The park project has been all consuming for Kawa and Borcherding.

“Every week for the past 20-some years, except in the middle of winter, we’ve been down there,” said Kawa. “If it wasn’t coaching, we’ve been working on it, having a festival or doing something. So, it’s meant a lot to us without a doubt.”

Kawa and Borcherding will be honored Tuesday during the Creston Chamber of Commerce 73rd annual meeting to be held at Supertel Inn and Conference Center, 800 Laurel St..

The event starts 6 p.m. with social hour, then 6:30 p.m. buffet dinner and business meeting.

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