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Shell Factory dedicates dog park, playground

By Staff | Dec 23, 2014

Richard Dunmire has served his country, his community and the Lee County school system for much of his 82 years of life.

So, it didn’t come as much of a surprise that when the Shell Factory dedicated the dog park and new playground in his honor, he said it should have been named after the man who brought the attraction back from the dead.

Shell Factory owner Tom Cronin insisted, and on Saturday dog lovers, friends and family gathered to give Dunmire the honor of giving his name to the reworked dog park, which includes a play area for the children.

Lee County Commissioner Brian Hamman was among the dignitaries in attendance, saying that Dunmire has led a life of service, from serving in the Army during the Korean War, to the 56 years he has been a school teacher, 41 of them in Lee County.

Dunmire teaches at the Alternative Learning Center Central, educating students who may have otherwise been removed from the school system.

He has also served on the board of many of the churches he has belonged to, even through difficult times, and recently has served the Shell Factory in promoting field trip opportunities to the kids and in running the flea market.

“As a commissioner, we get a lot of fanfare, but there are truly great people like Richard who make things happen and they should be celebrated,” Hamman said.

Dunmire’s daughter, Pam Cronin, Tom’s wife, said it was an honor much deserved.

“Since it’s my dad, I’m a little prejudiced. Tom wanted to do something for him because he’s done so much for the community and the Shell Factory. This was his gesture to say thank you and let people know what he means to us,” Cronin said.

Dunmire said the tribute was humbling and that he hadn’t had anything named after him until now, and was reluctant even then.

“I said it should be named Cronin Park. There are others who deserve this, but he insisted,” Dunmire said. “This is a great place to be. Many people came here as children and now you bring your children. That’s what this park is all about.”

Dunmire also said he would run for one of the two new at-large positions with the Lee County School Board in two years. He lost the District 4 race in November.

With that, the park opened, with Hamman’s daughter Kaitlyn being the first to break in the slide and other new toys, while dog owners brought their best friends in for a chance to play.

You couldn’t blame her. After all, it was her idea.

“Kaitlyn came into my office the other days and asked for a meeting, where she asked for a park close to her house with a see-saw and a slide,” Hamman said. “Thanks to the Shell Factory, we made that wish come true.”

Smitty, a Jack Russell/Chihuaua mix, gets ready to use the improved dog park during the dedication ceremony of the park Saturday at the Shell Factory.