- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 13, 2015

NEW HARMONY, Ind. (AP) - A private nonprofit has raised almost half of the projected cost of an outdoor education pavilion at Harmonie State Park to replace a nature center that now can barely hold a dozen visitors at a time.

Friends of Harmonie State Park has raised the money from local corporations, foundations and clubs, but is still seeking donations to help cover the projected $43,000 cost, group member Eddie Knapp told the Evansville Courier & Press for a story published Tuesday (https://bit.ly/1FkNGC2 ). A local company has agreed to provide materials and labor to help cover some of the expenses.

Thousands of students and visitors participate in educational programming every year at the park about 20 miles northwest of Evansville, but barely more than a dozen people at a time can fit into its nature center.

“Essentially it’s an old camp store that was converted in the 1970s to a nature center, but it is small,” said Park Manager Jon Winne.

The park’s naturalist presents about 245 programs each year, Winne said.

Plans call for the roofed pavilion to be approximately 30 feet by 50 feet in size, partially enclosed with a low brick wall, with electric service and water. It would be located in woods near the current nature center.

“What this will do is give us a covered facility that can easily accommodate 80 to 90 people. It gives us a really nice space,” Winne said.

Friends of Harmonie State Park incorporated in early 2012 and since then gas raised a total of nearly $60,000 for various projects including playground improvements and a stage in a campground amphitheater for concerts and other programs.

Winne said the financial help is essential.

“It’s not just at Harmonie. The entire division of state parks is struggling a bit with finances,” Winne said. “Almost all our resources are focused on resource maintenance.”


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