Monticello parklet prep

Monticello High School students Charity Allen and Renni Fultz pour potting soil into planter boxes that other students built as they help re-install parklets in the downtown area.

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MONTICELLO — Sidney Shubert was enjoying the sunshine in downtown Monticello on Wednesday morning instead of a classroom at Monticello High School.

“We never get to do anything outside that helps the community,” the junior said. “This is fun. It’s different.”

Shubert was one of about two dozen industrial arts and horticulture students from Monticello High helping to construct, install and fill the planter boxes in downtown Monticello.

It was part of a group effort to help Monticello Main Street and the city re-install the parklets for downtown dining.

Her classmate, Josie Ridings, also enjoyed being out of the classroom.

“It gives us a chance to be outside and do something positive,” she said.

This is the third straight year for the parklets, which give downtown patrons a chance to eat outside in areas that house parking spots the remainder of the year.

The parklets were instituted as a COVID-19 safety measure in the summer of 2020, and were popular enough to be brought back last year.

The planter boxes were constructed by the Monticello High industrial-tech students, and horticulture students assisted with filling the planter boxes with potting mix.

“The students did a tremendous job,” said City Administrator Terry Summers.

Junior Kody Roberts said he was proud of the work he and his classmates did.

“I like to be able to show off what we built and maybe bring more focus to the trades classes at school,” he said.

“Having a hand in building all of these boxes and being able to come out here and set them out, I knew it would be pretty cool,” said sophomore Deacon Boman, one of the students who participated.

Fellow sophomore Jack Motsegod said he hopes other students can take on similar projects.

“We didn’t have a whole lot of people in that class, so maybe when people see this and realize that it was students who worked on them, more funding will become available and we can take on bigger projects,” he said. “We learned how to work on a job site, making something good and quick.”

Fellow sophomore Matthew Barnick said the class has been working on the project for two-and-a-half months.

“We got recognition for working on this, get to show them off and these will be out here for a good, long while,” he said. “A lot of people get to see what we have done in class.”

The parklets will likely remain into the fall.

New lighting will help make the spaces more attractive and usable past dark, said Callie Jo McFarland, the city’s community development director. The fencing that divides the dining area will also be spruced up, she said.

When the parklets were first installed, the city bought 11 patio umbrellas to furnish them.

Kevin Barlow is editor of the Piatt County Journal-Republican, a Community Media Group newspaper. For more, visit journal-republican.com.

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