Husband and Wife duo Katlin and Eric Hilton, center, cut the ribbon for Chesterville’s newly built playground on Saturday, Aug. 19. The Hiltons asked for anyone who helped in the building of the playground to hold the ribbon and join the celebration with them. Brian Ponce/Franklin Journal

CHESTERVILLE — The town of Chesterville celebrated its newly built playground with a ribbon cutting ceremony and barbeque on Saturday, Aug. 19. Members of the Select Board were in attendance, as well as members of the Recreation Committee and representatives from Franklin Savings Bank and Skowhegan Savings Bank.

The event began at 11 a.m. with a few words from Chairperson of the Chesterville Recreation Committee Katlin Hilton.

“There have already been tons of children playing on this playground,” Hilton said at the event. “[Working in the town office], I get the pleasure of seeing all these kids running from the parking lot, racing each other to the swings or the slide, and it brings tears to my eyes just because that’s really what we want.”

Construction of the playground began officially on Friday, July 31, and was completed in two days. Preliminary digging for the playground, as well as the path leading from the parking lot to the playground, was done by Don Oliver Excavation.

The playground features a sandbox, play structure, monkey bars, slide, and four-bay swing set, which was donated in memory of Chesterville resident and World War II veteran John Gee. Gee’s wife, Kitty Gee, was in attendance and given the honor of unveiling the sign for the new playground.

Chesterville resident Kitty Gee, right, gives a speech about the new sign and playground, which features a swing set in her late husband and WWII Veteran John Gee’s name, on Saturday, Aug. 19. “John would be proud,” she said. Brian Ponce/Franklin Journal

“John would be proud,” Gee said. “Thank you to everybody. This is a big honor.”


Food was provided by the North Chesterville Extension Homemakers, who prepared barbeque chicken for the crowd. North Chesterville Extension Homemakers also helped in the construction by providing food and coffee for the volunteers.

The idea of the playground first took root 13 months ago with Chesterville resident Patricia Hastings. Hastings went to the Chesterville Board of Selectpersons with a petition to see if the Chesterville Recreation Committee could hold a special town meeting to vote for a playground using American Rescue Plan Act [ARPA] Funds as well as some of the town’s undesignated funds.

The Select Board agreed to hold a special town meeting with the playground being approved on Sept. 1, 2022. According to Selectperson Eric Hilton, who at the time was new in town and would not be elected to the position until March of this year, Hastings’ petition saw pushback from the board due to monetary reasons.

“When it comes to money and when it comes to other things, people lose focus,” Hilton shared. “We have our challenges and to talk about spending money for a playground, it’s difficult for people, especially when they see the roads aren’t good.

“But luckily, we were able to go through the process and not need to ask for that much money through the town,” he continued. “It’s just basically reminding people that the children want to play, and they need a playground. It’s for the future of Chesterville.”

After the approval of the playground, Hilton was put in charge of the Playground Committee. Once elected to the Select Board, Eric had his wife take over and continue with the project.


“[Eric] did the heavy lifting of getting it pushed through the board,” she said, “and then I did the other heavy lifting of organizing.”

ARPA and undesignated funds were allocated for the project. However, a majority of the funds were raised from a variety of fundraisers and from donations.

The Chesterville recreation committee held fundraisers, the first of which was in May. According to Katlin Hilton, the committee had a silent auction that raised $1,700. They also had a bottle drive at the Chesterville Transfer Station which they raised $1,200.

Skowhegan Savings Bank and the North Chesterville Extension Homemakers each donated $500, and Franklin Savings Bank donated $5,500. The rest of the funds, according to Hilton, were cash donations from the community.

“We just had other people in town come in [and donate],” she said. “Twenty dollars here, $50, $100 there, so it all just added up.”

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