Community Commitment: Angel Rohnke
Angle Rohnke has been the Director of the newly formed LeFleur's Bluff Education and Tourism Complex (officially) since October 2021. She's been instrumental in the planning and execution the new 30,000 square foot playground at LeFleur's Bluff.
Rohnke's big public debut happened on Friday, despite threats from above.
"The weather, every day… I was like, 'Oh please!' she said of planning the ribbon cutting on the new 30,000 square foot playground at LeFleur's Bluff.
"And it was perfect. Just perfect. It's been something positive for people to focus on. And working on this, it's been positive for us. Seeing the kids, all the hard work that goes into it… your heart just overflows."
Rohnke said the project came to fruition after listening to guests at the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, where she previously served as Assistant Director.
"I've always interacted with our guests to get their feedback," she said. "And, I'm a mom of two children. [The former] wooden playground… twenty years old, it was 'loved.' People share their stories all the time. We've always had these conversations. We've been in [the Science Museum building] for twenty years, and we're doing upgrades there [as well] and so, it was time."
It also didn't hurt that the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation of Mississippi gave a nearly $4 million gift to the facility's building, maintenance, and upkeep.
"It's set up as $10,000 a year for ten years to start," Rohnke said of the maintenance fund. "We worked with the playground company (Landscape Structures and local affiliate, Moonshot Recreation) and turf company to set up a long-term maintenance plan. On the shade cloth, there's a 15-year warranty. On the turf, a 10–15-year warranty. We were thoughtful on the planning of this."
Two times per year, those playground providers will come on to the campus to make inspections. And, the complex has hired someone on-site for daily walk-throughs.
"They have a checklist," Rohnke said. "With any issues, they're addressing them immediately."
With an outdoor theater and a museum to museum walking trail on campus, there's more to come and more for the community to get behind.
"There's an opportunity for patrons to contribute through the foundation's website and QR codes posted to playground signage. It's a commitment from the Children's Museum and the Science Museum and, ultimately, our community."