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Thursday - May 10, 2018 1:34 am

Grand opening for renovated Powell Park today

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Two years ago, students planted red flags for every cigarette butt they found at Powell Park. They started with 1,000 flags and didn't have enough for the 1,456 butts they picked up. Two years ago, students planted red flags for every cigarette butt they found at Powell Park. They started with 1,000 flags and didn't have enough for the 1,456 butts they picked up.

A $400,000 facelift to Powell Park gets a ribbon cutting today in La Crosse.

The ceremony takes place at 4:30 p.m. at the park on Jackson Street and West Avenue.

Crews started work on the park renovation last year, transforming what was a cigarette butt-littered sandy playground and ballpark into what the city is calling "a more family-friendly park."

There is a new playground, walking trails and places to picnic. Two years ago, students planted red flags for every cigarette butt they found at the park. They had 1,000 flags. It wasn't enough (story here).

About half of the cost rebuild, $208,500 to be exact, was paid for with a HUD community development block grant.

Beyond this latest facelift, the city is planning a possible community garden for the park.

The park will continue to be named after "Doc" Powell, who came to the city in 1881, served as its mayor for four terms and also performed with the Buffalo Bill's Wild West show.

He will be honored during the ceremony, which will include food, carnival games, a bounce house and other fun activities.

In a release, the city writes of Powell:

The new park informs residents of the significance of its namesake Doc Powell or White Beaver, one of the more colorful residents of La Crosse. Born David Franklin Powell in Kentucky. After landing in Lanesboro, Minnesota, and befriended the Ho-Chunk. He became known as the Medicine Chief by the Winnebago and later, acquired the name, White Beaver.

In 1881, Dr. Powell and his brothers, relocated to La Crosse. He was elected Mayor of La Crosse four times, ran unsuccessfully for governor, and was known for the patent medicines that he created.

In 1887, he performed with Buffalo Bill’s “Wild West” show and he was written up in many “dime” novels of the time. He died in 1906 on a train and three years later, Doc Powell’s brothers sold the vacant land they owned to the City, which became the park.

This park was originally known as the “West Avenue Playfield” and was one of the areas designed by John Nolan in his 1911 report, “The Making of the Park System in La Crosse.”

Last modified on Thursday - May 10, 2018 10:29 am
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