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Recreation district gives two paws up to dog park founder

Pinnick recognized for 4 ½-year push to build animal playground
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
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An Auburn woman will be recognized for lending a paw to the community’s canine population. Laura Pinnick’s tireless work to bring the Ashley Memorial Dog Park to Auburn earned her the first-ever Auburn Recreation District Friend of Recreation award. The award will be presented at this year’s State of the Community dinner and is given to someone who has made a “significant” contribution to parks and recreation activities in Auburn. “It was a nice surprise,” Pinnick said of hearing the news. “I was very pleased the dog park was going to be recognized at the State of the Community dinner.” The Friday dinner will have a special meaning for Pinnick because it marks the exact one-year anniversary of the park’s opening date, April 17, 2008. “It’s amazing how many people have made friends through the dog park and how many new dogs and new puppies people have been able to adopt because now they have a safe place to take their dogs and socialize,” Pinnick said. Pinnick proposed the idea of a dog park in September 2004, when she realized there was not a large, public fenced-in area to take her champagne Labrador Ringo – who is the “founding paw” of the park - to romp around. With the blessing of Auburn Recreation District officials, Pinnick set off on a four-and-a-half-year fundraising effort to make the park a reality. Key contributors – Arnold Lyon and Kathy and Norma Harris – donated needed money and numerous community members donated more than 1,300 hours of service. The park was named after Kathy Harris’ deceased daughter, Ashley. “What is incredible about the park is it was really created, designed and constructed by the community for the community,” Pinnick said. Recreation District Administrator Kahl Muscott, however, commends Pinnick for leading the charge. “Laura was the absolute driving force behind getting the dog park complete,” Muscott said. “Because of her dedication, the community now has an extremely popular facility that cost the district very little money to create.” Scott Holbrook, recreation district director, added that Pinnick’s service was unique. “Laura’s efforts and persistence exemplified in the successful completion of the dog park is something I have never seen from any other ARD volunteer,” Holbrook said. “She truly deserves this honor and recognition.” Muscott said the dog park is arguably the recreation district’s “most used” facility. He said sometimes he’s seen almost 50 dogs in the park with their owners tagging along. Today, Pinnick and a committee help maintain the park through various tasks such as placing trash bags in containers, refreshing materials at the information station and more. She said she’s also noticed those using the park doing their part to maintain it. “So many people and volunteers involved with it take pride in it,” Pinnick said. “I could go to the park and see somebody sweeping the sidewalks or picking up litter.” Pinnick said she is happy today to see so many in the community benefiting from a park they helped create. She said one the greatest compliments the park received is when somebody called it a little slice of heaven. “It’s a little slice of heaven for people with dogs,” Pinnick said. “It’s a great way for people to exercise, get vitamin D from being outdoors and meet new people to talk about their dogs.” Pinnick will receive her award April 17 at the Gold Country Fairgrounds at the State of the Community Dinner. Tickets are available at the Auburn Chamber of Commerce, (530) 885-5616. The Journal's Jenifer Gee can be reached at jeniferg@goldcountrymedia.com or post a comment. ---------- By the numbers: Ashley Memorial Dog Park $236,000: value of the dog park 1: number of waterfalls 60: number of trees 29: number of benches 3: number of deactivated fire hydrants 1: kiosk center shaped like a large doghouse 3: number of shade structures 1,300: number of volunteer hours not counting contractors’ donated work 220: number of hours local artists donated to make a sculpture for the park ----------