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Improvements being made to Marjorie Feist Park

As parks in Chinook are starting to see changes, another Chinook park is also starting to see improvements with hopefully much more to come thanks in part to a prodigal son. Marjorie Feist Park is located north of US2 and the railroad tracks just east of the Indiana Street crossing.

Marjorie Feist Park, also known as Northside Park had five new trees planted last year, with hopes of seeing more along with other improvements thanks in part to the namesake's son, Bob Feist. Bob recently returned to Chinook, after 27 years of teaching in part to work on the park. Last year with the help of the city crew, they planted two boulevard linden trees, and three Patmore ash Bob had purchased from the greenhouse he previously worked at. "One of the ash trees didn't make it over the winter, but the other trees are looking healthy," Feist explained.

"It's a nice park and I hope to see it get used more. Mom and Dad put a lot of work into it," said Feist. "I hope to see new playground equipment and have ideas for other amenities there with the help of donations and some grants."

Feist said a friend from Lewistown has been helping find grant sources. "At a recent park board meeting," Feist explained, "I was granted permission to use the Sweet Park Board non profit status for grants and donations. Now I am just waiting to get a separate bank account to deposit donations, then I'll start looking into grants."

Feist said originally the park was an empty lot owned by the railroad. "Growing up we would get neighborhood kids together and play sandlot softball or football. Kind of like the old saying, we didn't stop playing until the streetlights came on or our moms yelled at us," he recalled. Sometime in the 70's, the railroad donated the land to the city which became Northside Park with a slide, a swing, some horseshoe pits and some metal barbecue pits.

At the time HRDC had a grant available for a type of food share program to build a greenhouse. Marjorie Feist applied for the grant and got the greenhouse which used to sit on the concrete slab at the park. "It was supposed to be available to everyone, but nobody else was using it, so mom just kind of took it over," Feist said. "Then she started growing flowers and vegetables in it." The greenhouse was innovated as a solar greenhouse with large heat collecting tubes filled with water to keep it warm at night.

Soon Marjorie started raising tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, etc., along with petunias, marigolds and other annuals and began selling them. The money she raised went back into the park for more equipment such as the metal stage coach and metal jungle gym horse. "People from out of town would come to buy mom's plants, she was quite popular," Bob recalled.

The horseshoe pits were popular as well thanks in part to Joe Feist. For awhile, Chinook had a horseshoe pitching club and would hold matches and tournaments on the north side. "Dad loved playing horseshoes, and anytime I would come home, he would take me to the pits and play me, and, of course, beat me badly," Feist said. "There was also a basketball hoop there at one time."

"Some of the flowers she raised she planted in the tractor tires around the guy wires and would take care of them," Feist added. After Marjorie passed, the greenhouse wasn't being used, so it was sold and removed.

In 2005, with the help of Chinook City Council member and longtime friend of Joe and Marjorie, Freda Bryson, the city decided to plant trees in the park in their memory. The City Council also voted to change the name to Marjorie Feist Park. As stated in an earlier "Journal" story, "It was an easy choice to make, as the park that evolved on Chinook's north side was a creation of Margie's hard work and the dedication of her and her husband Joe."

Over the years, a lot of the equipment had fallen into disrepair. Thanks to the efforts of Brenden Maddox who took the park on as his Eagle Scout project, the park was fixed up prior to dedication. Much of the equipment was painted. New benches were built, the shelter and slab were put in along with a new picnic table. Sandboxes were put in, new seats on the swings, and the horseshoe pits revitalized. On Arbor Day in 2005, the park was officially dedicated to Marjorie Feist.

Look for future articles explaining additional plans for the park and how donations can be accepted.

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