LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

To the organizers and supporters of the exceptional effort to open Julie’s Jungle at Lime Kiln. A nonprofit group intends to break ground on the handicapped-accessible East Fishkill playground this spring.

The organization has been holding fund-raisers, including a recent event featuring people gathering to eat, watch football, socialize and support the group’s efforts.

The playground, which will cost about $400,000, is being named after Julie Keating, a special needs child who loved playing outside. She died in 2007 at the age of 15, but her younger sister Natalie wrote a letter to East Fishkill’s Town Hall suggesting a playground be built for special needs children in memory of Julie. What a beautiful thought.

The letter described the struggles that disabled children face at the playground, including the difficulty in getting a wheelchair over the wood chips under the swings.

The nonprofit Julie’s Jungle has been raising funds for the project without using tax dollars. The group’s first major donation was $25,000 from Trump National Golf Club, which has continued to help with fund-raising efforts.

There are more than 2,500 disabled children in Dutchess County, but the nearest adaptive playground is 50 miles from East Fishkill, in the “northernmost tip” of the county, according to Julie’s Jungle literature.

The nonprofit hopes to have a rubberized ground cover put down in the spring, and the site will include a sensory garden, a glider big enough to fit a wheelchair, and play panels with Braille writing.

To find more about the this excellent effort, go to http://juliesjungle.org/

To Nelson Eddy Rivera, director of the Dutchess County Division of Veterans Services, and Dutchess County Clerk Brad Kendall for appearing at a recent information fair for veterans. Officials noted that military veterans should register with the Dutchess County Division of Veterans Services because they may learn about benefits and other services they are might be eligible to receive. Veterans can qualify a for a Return the Favor card, which provides discounts at local businesses for those who served in the military and were honorably discharged.

The event was held at the federal Veterans Administration Hudson Valley Health Care System clinic in LaGrange and attracted dozens of veterans. They received information on an array of subjects, including health care and services for women who served in the military.

While Rivera’s office oversees veteran services, the Favor card is part of the Return the Favor program, which is run by Kendall’s office.. Kendall said more than 3,000 veterans have obtained Favor cards. Dutchess County is home to 20,000 veterans.

To find out more about the Dutchess County Division of Veterans Services, go to http://bit.ly/1KeGfcg or or call 845-486-2060. To find our more about the Return the Favor card, go to http://bit.ly/1yfoALY or call call 845-486-2195.