DIXFIELD — Dylan Lord and his friends had one word for the new skateboard park: awesome.

The 14-year-old from Peru and several of his friends on Tuesday were whipping down the ramps, twisting around, and landing on their feet. They were so anxious to use the new park next to the Western Foothills School District central office that they came out in the rain.

The park was installed by the American Ramp Co., based in Joplin, Mo., on Monday. The boys were waiting.

“It’s better than the street,” Dixfield ninth-grader Cody Berryment said.

That’s the idea, said Laurie Soucy, health coordinator for the school district and co-writer of the grant. The money allowed for the purchase of the Dixfield park and a similar one at Hosmer Field in Rumford.

“We want them to stay off the streets,” Soucy said.

She and retiring SAD 43 health coordinator Kathy Sutton wrote a successful federal grant about two years ago that resulted in SADs 43 and 21 receiving a total of $728,000 for a variety of health and fitness programs. Some of the money was used for staff training, some for fitness and sports equipment, some for after-school programming.

“It’s really good to have this in town,” said Robert Babb, a ninth-grader from Peru.

Soucy said the Rumford and Dixfield skateboard parks cost $56,000 for both. Because the Dixfield park had to be paved, a group of teenagers helped raise about $2,500 of the $4,500 needed. The remaining $2,000 was given by area businesses.

The 40- by 70-foot park is a permanent fixture, and youngsters can use it as late into the season as they wish, Soucy said.

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