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  • Family Resource Center hosts 4th Playground Party

  • The Family Resource Center held its fourth annual playground party Wednesday evening, but this year’s event was a bit different from events past.

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  • The Family Resource Center held its fourth annual playground party Wednesday evening, but this year’s event was a bit different from events past.
    It was the first time former director Monica Murnan, who left in July to work for the School Improvement Services department at the Southeast Kansas Education Service Center in Greenbush, was not running the show. Former Pittsburg USD 250 Superintendent Dan Neuenswander, who gave Murnan the job of growing The Center, returned from Pittsburg to talk about its history and Murnan’s role in helping it grow. Later, he formally dedicated the playground in Murnan’s honor.
    “It means the whole world to me,” Murnan said. “Dr. Dan said he had an opportunity for me to serve, and boy was he right.”
    The party featured an inflatable bounce house and slide, members of the Pittsburg Police Department’s D.A.R.E. squad, 10,000 large, LEGO-type building blocks for the kids and free hot dogs, barbecue sandwiches, empanadas and tamales. The crowd also got a special performance from Arkansas based folk singer Shannon Wurst, who earlier in the day put on a songwriting workshop for students at The Center.
    “I wanted to introduce them to some songs they haven’t heard before, and some that they have, and get them singing and dancing.” said Wurst, who has released an album of her own, “What’s More Honest Than A Song,” as well as a children’s CD, “Green and Growing: roots music for eco-kids.”
    Wurst, whose newest album, “Lionheart Love,” will be released in January of next year, said she injects her own life experiences into her music. According to her website, she was a finalist in the 2009 Kerrville New Folk Songwriting competition, named one of Folk Alley’s Best Artist, and was the winner of the Walnut Valley New Song Contest at the Walnut Valley Music Festival in Winfield, Kansas. She also was commissioned by the Department of Arkansas Heritage to write and perform songs about Arkansas for school children. Garrison Keillor of A Prairie Home Companion Radio Program picked her as semi-finalist for the program’s Talented Twenties Contest. She also was named 2010 Female Singer/Songwriter of the Year in the Northwest Arkansas Music Awards. Wurst also has played in concerts in several Pittsburg homes.
    “The Center called me and I knew I wanted to be a part of it,” she said.
    Wurst, who described her sound as “folk-Americana,” a la Alison Krauss and Dolly Parton said she holds a special place for children in her heart.
    “For them, it’s all about having fun,” she said, smiling. “Their main object is to play, and for us, I don’t think it has to be that different.”
    Guests at the party said it was a success.
    Page 2 of 2 - Sgt. 1st Class David Cox, of the United States Army Recruiting Command, Joplin Recruiting Company came with his wife, Cassie, and 4-year-old daughter, Emma Rae, who attends The Center.
    “She just loves being able to play, and we enjoy meeting the parents of the kids she talks about all the time,” Cassie said.
    David said it’s going to be difficult leaving Pittsburg — he’s due to get transfer orders today — and The Center.
    “It’s head and shoulders above what else is out there,” he said. “She loves being here and we love her being here.”

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