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      Help save Jefferson County Park's swinging bridge

      The Jefferson County Park's "Swingers" want your help to replace an icon that had been in the Fairfield community for 26 years.

      The swinging bridge in Jefferson County Park was built in 1986 and modeled after a similar structure in Columbus Junction. Since its construction, the bridge has been a favorite spot for kids and families, but it was closed last fall when it was deemed unsafe to cross.

      Jefferson County Park and its trails get a lot of visitors in the summer months, and Park Board member Kathy Tollenaere said the park's naturalist, Therese Cummiskey, holds several programs each year that also contributes to a lot of foot traffic.

      "She estimates she takes 3,000 children a year on her trails," Tollenaere said. "So that's pretty heavy-duty and that's a lot of traffic on the trails, so we want everybody to be safe."

      The Park Board has been collecting donations from area businesses and individuals in hopes that the bridge can once again be enjoyed. The entire bridge needs to be replaced, a project that will cost an estimated $10,000. They are just over halfway to their goal.

      "Lots and lots of people have crossed that bridge, lots of children have grown up traveling it, lots of adults go across it, it's a neat discovery to find that bridge and it's become kind of an icon in the park," Tollenaere said.

      Anyone who makes a donation of $25 or more, which is tax-deductible, will receive a t-shirt. Donations should be sent and made payable to the Jefferson County Conservation Board at 2003 Libertyville Road, Fairfield, Iowa, 52556.

      Tollenaere said the park hopes to host a grand opening when the new bridge is open and ready once again for swinging.