The spot for Jacksonville’s new PetSafe Dog Park used to be the MacMurray Cabin, and before that the Kiwanis Hut. Hobie Hinderliter, historian of the Jacksonville Kiwanis Club, passed on a book of the club’s history.

Kiwanis started a campsite for girls and boys of the city in 1923, at a location about 6 miles east of town. The camp was later moved to Jacksonville parkland on the south shore of Mauvaisterre Lake, and a cabin was constructed by the club. Hobie said the Kiwanis Hut was used for family picnics for club members, burgoos for area schoolchildren, and an annual hamburger fry with memorable servings of watermelon. The cabin was later passed on to MacMurray College, and was used by their students and community before being transferred to the city of Jacksonville.

The foundation of the old MacMurray Cabin/Kiwanis Hut was recently cleared by Jacksonville Parks & Lakes workers as they prepare the site for the new Jacksonville dog park.

The foundation of the old MacMurray Cabin/Kiwanis Hut was recently cleared by Jacksonville Parks & Lakes workers as they prepare the site for the new Jacksonville dog park.


Here’s some excerpts from the History of The Kiwanis Club of Jacksonville . . .

June 12th brought the first activity looking toward the construction of a Kiwanis Over-night Camp. Bricks were hauled to the site six miles east of the city. This movement, handled successfully by the Public Affairs Committee, headed by Dr. Bill Duncan and in absence by Lee Sullivan. This project was inaugurated by the Club on August 9th by the presentation of a perfected plan for the building of a Camp House.
On September 1st initial work was started and on September 3rd, Labor Day, building began in earnest. This work was carried forward successfully by the committee to the most minute detail including the establishment of comprehensive Camp Riles.
A report showed they had successfully built and paid for a splendid camp at a cost of approximately $1,000.00. It was turned over for the use of the boys and girls organizations of the City — a camp which, constructed privately, would cost as least $3,000.

In the year 1927 the main project for the year was the moving of the Kiwanis Camp from the site East of Jacksonville. During the three years of its existence it was impossible to keep it in a fit condition for use. Break-ins, vandalism and the general destroying of the property made it imperative that we move it.
Ted Beadles, Secretary-Treasurer of the Illinois Steel Bridge Company, was a member of our Board of Directors; he was also President of the Park Board. He suggested that we move it to a site on Lake Mauvaisterre. After some time a dollar a year lease was made with the Park Board for a site on the South side of the Lake and the North side of Vandalia Road.
It was ecided we could build an all-year Cabin, fitted with bunkbeds, furnace, complete kitchen and toilets. Vets Chumley, a building contractor and an active member, was Chairman of the committee that supervised the work, most of which was done by members. At one meeting, we were served at the camp sire and we had a regular Cornerstone laying with all the ceremonies and placing papers in the stone. When the building was completed a committee handles its use.

During the year we inaugurated the Family Picnic. This picnic was held at Kiwanis Hut. We had 78 in attendance, but that has grown and has become one of the most popular entertainments during the years.
The Sammy Nichols Burgoo Picnic was given for all school children in all schools up to the Fifth Grade. That also was held at the Hut. All transportation was furnished by the club members by trucks and cars.

During the year 1930 the undersigned, Hugh Green, was president of the Jacksonville Kiwanis Club.
According to my recollection, that was the year in which the debt on the hut was finally paid off. The construction of the hut had been financed by issuance of bonds or notes which were held by various members of the Club. The finances were carefully guarded in order to meet the obligation. During that year the Hut was used considerably for various activities of the Club. It was found to be an excellent place to entertain the families of the club membership.

We had our Family Picnic at the Kiwanis Hut, which was a very successful event.

Another worthwhile project for the year for Underprivileged children was the “Burgoo” sponsored by a special committee headed by Pete Bonansinga. This picnic was held at the Kiwanis Hut and 400 gallons of soup were prepared and consumed by the children of the city.

Back in November 1927 we laid the cornerstone for the Kiwanis Hut on Lake Mauvaisterre, which was operated successfully for several years. It finally became a “thorn in the flesh of Kiwanis“ and almost a “house of ill repute.“ Something had to be done — your president (A.B. Applebee) conceived the brilliant idea of selling it – literally to MacMurray College, and Hayden Walker, Hut Chairman, signed a sigh of relief when the deal was closed. Sense than hundreds of McEnery girls have transferred out too it’s beautiful setting for wiener roast and beefsteak bats (cq).

Edited — New information from MacMurray College Historian Lauretta K. Scheller . . . MacMurray College leased the cabin from the city until May 1986. College catalogues listed the cabin as part of the recreation areas for the students. A couple that worked for the college and tended to the cabin’s care retired in 1973.

The area known for the MacMurray Cabin and Kiwanis Hut is being cleared by City of Jacksonville Parks & Lakes workers, in preparation for transformation in the new Jacksonville Dog Park. A worker said the old cabin foundation is in good shape, with just one crack that can be repaired and reused for a new shelter. One Kiwanian still has the cornerstone of the hut, which was destroyed in a fire. Find out more about the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Office of Recreation and Park Resources planning process, with initial plans to be presented at a committee meeting 4-6 pm Monday February 8 at City Hall, in this previous blog post. Use the blog post’s contact form to send suggestions for the new dog park to the U of I team. Posted by Steve Warmowski/Jacksonville Park Foundation President.


A team of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign students and faculty this week kicked off the planning process for a new dog park for Jacksonville, Illinois. Professor Lara Browning from the Office of Recreation and Park Resources will lead a group of students and others in designing the dog park and planning for add-ons. The project will be paid for by $100,000 in grant money as well as any additional funds raised by the Bark Park Initiative of the Jacksonville Park Foundation or contributed to the city.

Your input is needed — use the form at the bottom of this post to submit suggestions and ideas for the new dog park.

Professor Lara Browning of the University of Illinois' Office of Recreation and Park Resources leads students on a tour of the new dog park area.

Professor Lara Browning of the University of Illinois’ Office of Recreation and Park Resources takes notes as she leads students on a tour exploring the site of the future dog park in Jacksonville.

The U of I group started at a meeting of the Jacksonville City Council’s Parks & Lakes Committee, where general outlines and goals of the project were discussed. After the meeting Tuesday November 17, the group went to the future site of the city’s new dog park to get the lay of the land. The student team will collect input from the community, and present the first draft of a plan and designs to the city council (updated — meeting will be 4-6pm Monday February 8, 2016 at City Hall).

Link to see the University of Illinois study proposal. The Jacksonville community won $100,000 in the PetSafe Bark for Your Park contest, with 100% of the funds dedicated towards the new dog park. At the Parks & Lakes committee meeting it was estimated the initial grant will pay for basics (fence, parking, water fountain, signs, walkways and meeting accessibility requirements). The park plan will also lay out designs for future add-ons and improvements to be paid for by donations and any grants obtained. Waverly, Iowa won last year’s PetSafe contest and spent $100,000 plus approximately an additional $20,000 to make their own park covering the basics mentioned above. The U of I study will present plans and fundraising goals for additions to the park, with the goal of designing the best dog park appropriate for the community.

The Jacksonville Park Foundation set up the Bark Park Initiative to raise funds for those add-ons. Follow the committee on Facebook, keep tabs on their events, or make your own contribution to support the effort. Lara Browning is a Landscape Architecture Specialist for the Office of Recreation and Park Resources and has expertise in the planning and design of outdoor recreational spaces, educational and interpretive landscapes, therapeutic gardens, ecological site design, and community-engaged design processes. She previously helped plan and design dog parks at her last position at Virginia Tech.

The pubic is invited to submit ideas and suggestions on the project. What have you seen in other dog parks that you like? What features should the dog park have? What are your concerns that could be mitigated in the plan? The new dog park will be at the site of the old MacMurray Cabin (old Kiwanis Hut), located on East Vandalia Road across from the east entrance to Nichols Park. The site is approximately 3 acres with trees, grass and Mauvaisterre Lake shoreline. Once in the park, dogs can be be off-leash to play and socialize.

Story by Steve Warmowski, Jacksonville Park Foundation

Dogs love trees! Will you please help Jacksonville win this $10,000 grant? 5 days – 5 chances to vote. Voting is super easy – here’s the link! Let’s help the community win another prize! From Illinois College . . .

We need your votes in $10,000 contest to plant trees in Northeast Jacksonville neighborhood – and please encourage your family and friends to vote DAILY!

Illinois College is competing against two other small colleges in a contest that could result in a $10,000 grant to plant trees in the Vas Homes neighborhood of Jacksonville and provide educational activities for the Early Years Program.

Online voting starts today and runs through Friday at JUST FIVE DAYS – JUST FIVE VOTES. (You can also vote using the IC App!) Two colleges (one each in the small and large institution categories) will be winners in the Tree Campus USA Service Learning Contest, and each will receive $10,000 to benefit their communities.

If Illinois College wins, our students will plant 70 trees, shrubs and fruit trees at the Vas Homes public housing development in the spring. Vas Homes is located on the south side of Independence Avenue, near Lincoln School. Vas Homes has 43 housing units occupied by 131 people and hosts the Jacksonville School District’s Early Years preschool program. A treeless playground is used by neighborhood residents and the Early Years Program. There are just two dozen mature trees in this multi-block area.

Planting trees is just one aspect of the proposed project. If Jacksonville wins this grant, IC students, under the guidance of the Early Years educators, will provide tree and leaf education lessons and activities for children. Illinois College arborist Early Years students will learn about identifying trees, the benefits trees provide to our environment and our community, and how to care for trees. Age-appropriate educational activities will include hands-on demonstrations and craft activities.

Illinois College is leading the project, partnering with Vas Homes neighborhood residents, Morgan County Housing Authority, Starhill Forest Arboretum, the City of Jacksonville and Jacksonville District 117 Early Years Program.

The Arbor Day Foundation offered this grant competition to Tree Campus USA campuses to conduct student service projects that plant trees in low-to-moderate income neighborhoods.

Just six colleges nationwide are finalists for the two $10,000 prizes: three from the small-school category (fewer than 15,000 students) and three from the large-school category (more than 15,000 students). One winner from each category will be selected during an online competition that will take place in the second week of November. Illinois College is competing in the small-school category against Huntingdon College (Montgomery, Alabama) and Hobart and William Smith Colleges (St. Geneva, New York).

The only way we can win the $10,000 grant is for the public to show its support for Illinois College’s project each day from Monday, November 9 through Friday, November 13. Votes may be cast at

Winners will be announced during the week of November 16. If awarded the grant, Illinois College students will conduct the project in the spring.

Protect the Melon! logo

Thanks to a generous sponsorship from the Morgan County Medical Society and Passavant Area Hospital all fourth graders in the Jacksonville community will receive helmets this year as part of the Protect the Melon! campaign.

The Jacksonville Park Foundation partners with Illinois College Professor Dr. Jeremy Turner in the Protect the Melon! campaign which encourages youth to wear a helmet when biking, roller skating, riding a scooter, skateboarding or any other wheeled activity. Illinois College psychology students help with a lesson on brain health, then everyone gets a helmet.

Links, tips and information on being a Melonhead is available at

Illinois College student fits 4th grader with helmet. Photos by Darren Iozia

Illinois College student fits 4th grader with helmet. Photos by Darren Iozia

Dr. Jeremy Turner of Illinois College shows the result of a fall to an unprotected melon.

Dr. Jeremy Turner of Illinois College shows the result of a fall to an unprotected melon.

Student with helmet.

Student with helmet.

Thanks to Darren Iozia Photography for photos of the event. See more images on the Jacksonville Park Foundation – Town Brook Initiative Facebook page.  


The Jacksonville Park Foundation is working with the Pilot Club, Helmets First!, the Illinois College Psychology Club and others in the community to fund the program for future years. Contact Foundation President Steve Warmowski via to help.

The Jacksonville Park Foundation focuses on health, recreation and families. Volunteers in the group have started several initiatives to improve the quality of life in the Jacksonville community such as youth health via the Jacksonville Children’s Garden; advocating for a bridge and path at Lake Jacksonville and a Town Brook recreational trail; creation of a new dog park through the Bark Park Initiative; assisting in fundraising for a new disc golf course; and other park enhancements. The foundation is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization and is solely reliant on private funding.

You can contribute by making a check out to Jacksonville Park Foundation and mailing to Laura Marks/JPF Treasurer, Jacksonville Savings Bank, 1211 W. Morton Ave., Jacksonville, IL 62650.

Note: due to end-of-semester scheduling issues not all 4th graders received helmets in the spring campaign. We will work with schools to hand out the remaining helmets when school is back in session next month.

Link to initial story.

The City of Jacksonville will be hosting a Bark for your Park Community Results Party on the Square, Friday the 31st of July, starting at 1:45pm. Say you’re coming and get updates via the Bark Park announce Facebook event page.

DOGS INVITED — will have treats, water fountains and more

What? You have a job?!? Come downtown after work, the party should still be going on. Check Jacksonville Bark for Your Park​ page and the Facebook event page for updates.

Celebration sponsored by Mayor Andy Ezard, The Source​, Benton & Associates​, Hamilton’s Catering​, SafeCo Donuts​, The Soap Co. Coffee House​, All Occasions Flowers & Gifts​, Jacksonville Main Street​.

NOTE — Similar events are being planned with the sponsor in other towns (they set the time and date). So we won’t know until 7/31 if we won $25,000 or are TOP DOG and get $100,000. Still, you GOTTA BELIEVE the community did it! Come join the celebration!

Wednesday July 22nd is the last day to vote for Jacksonville in the Bark for your Park contest. We are having a final daily drawing — a Grand Slam Giveaway for tickets to the Cardinals/Pirates game September 4th. These 3rd base field box tickets go for more than $450!

All you have to do is Bark on PetSafe and Bark again on Facebook then go to the contest post on the campaign Facebook page and say when you voted before 11 pm and you’ll be entered in the drawing.

Jacksonville Bark for Your Park supporter Karen Bennett submitted this photo of Cardinal fans Zeke and Barley. 'They want a dog park to run around in and make new friends.'

Cardinal fans Zeke and Barley are back again — this time with box seats!

The contest is in the Howl at the Moon period where the vote counter is hidden. Your vote still counts, you just can’t see your vote number. Put in the time you voted (or a screenshot) to enter the contest. If you can’t vote twice, please vote once and then enter the drawing. You can only enter our drawing once. 

Tickets were paid for by folks who purchased t-shirts. Thanks to Paul of Lonergan K9 Academy for wrangling the tickets for us at a great price. See our last post for more details about past drawing sponsors.

Thanks to campaigners Stephanie Fernandes and Abbi Stevens (C&A Construction) for managing the daily drawing give-aways. 

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 8.01.06 AM

Jacksonville needs your votes! The point counter is hidden, and last year’s winner has started pulling for their fellow Iowa town. This $100,000 top prize can really make a difference in the community. For example we’re already trying to make plans for a special area for the visually impaired and deaf in the region to work their service dogs. PLEASE SHARE get friends to vote the NEXT 3 DAYS until the contest ends. Voting links: 1) PetSafe and again 2) Facebook

On heednesday vote for Jacksonville in the Bark for your Park contest and you might win tickets for the Cardinals/Mets game this Sunday.

All you have to do is Bark on PetSafe and Bark again on Facebook then go to the contest post on the campaign Facebook page and say when you voted before 11 pm and you’ll be entered in a drawing for 4 tickets for the game in St. Louis 1:15pm July 19th (Section 189/Row 13). That’s a winner!

Jacksonville Bark for Your Park supporter Karen Bennett submitted this photo of Cardinal fans Zeke and Barley. 'They want a dog park to run around in and make new friends.'

Jacksonville Bark for Your Park supporter Karen Bennett submitted this photo of Spokesdogs and Cardinal fans Zeke and Barley. ‘They want a dog park to run around in and make new friends.’

Note — the contest entered the Howl at the Moon period where the vote counter went dark 11pm Tuesday. Your vote still counts, you just can’t see your vote number. Put in the time you voted (or a screenshot) to enter the contest. If you can’t vote twice, please vote once and then enter the drawing (invite someone to join the pack and provide the missing vote).

Jacksonville leads in the contest — but we’re not letting up until the contest ends 11pm local time Wednesday July 22. Some events in this final week of the contest . . .

Cardinals tickets were paid for by Jacksonville Bark for Your Park campaigners. Thanks to the businesses and other supporters who gave prizes for our Daily Drawings . . .

Thanks to campaigners Stephanie Fernandes and Abbi Stevens (C&A Construction) for managing the daily drawing give-aways. Get background at Please contact Steve Warmowski of the Jacksonville Park Foundation if there’s an error or omission in the list of Daily Prize donors by messaging the campaign on Facebook at Jacksonville Bark for Your Park“Go crazy, folks! Go crazy!”


Hollywood actress and dog lover Emily Berry jumped at the chance to make a video to help her hometown win $100,000 for a new dog park. Jacksonville leads the pack in the PetSafe Bark for Your Park online contest.

Berry is most known for appearances in commercials for Geico (titled Auctioneer) and a Dirty Dancing parody for United Healthcare (Our Song). She costarred on The Neighbors and Grey’s Anatomy and has acted in film, commercials, theater and web projects. For the public service announcement she grabbed some friends and a pair of rescue dogs to get the message out that towns with dog parks have fewer dogs abandoned at shelters and fewer dogs euthanized.


The video was shot beneath the foothills displaying the Hollywood sign and features dog actors Barney and Ellie Mae plus a friend who served as a third dog. “I could only handle two dogs,” Berry said. ”The dogs aren’t used to taking direction, so it was an adventure wrangling them.”

Ellie Mae was in a litter of puppies found in an abandoned house and adopted by Berry at 6 weeks. “I think she was a cheerleader in a past life, she’s a very enthusiastic dog,” Berry said. Also featured was Barney, a Lhasa Apso found on the streets at 6 months and adopted from Pasadena Humane Society by a buddy of Berry’s.

“A lot of my friends live in apartments and don’t have a place to play with their dogs,” Berry said. They like to come use her big back yard and also go to dog parks. Berry is a big supporter of dog rescues and has donated to the Protecting Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) shelter in Jacksonville. Lisa Jackson, director of PAWS, suggested Berry as the perfect person to make a video and help the community.

The video appears on contest sponsor PetSafe’s YouTube channel. A link to the video, as well as links to vote, can be found at or Jacksonville Bark for Your Park on Facebook.

Steve Warmowski, president of the Jacksonville Park Foundation which is coordinating with campaigners in the contest, said it takes less than half a minute a day for dog lovers and community boosters to vote. The community currently leads the pack in the contest which runs through July 22nd.

Berry lives in Van Nuys, California, and has a second dog Bubba, a rescue she found via PetFinder. “I could only wrangle two dogs, so Bubba is not in the video. But he’s very smart so he helped me write the script,” Berry joked. “He reminds me of Morgan Freeman.”

Video link –

Jacksonville is currently the national leader in the Bark for Your Park contest. PetSafe​ sponsors the​ contest because communities with dog parks have fewer dogs abandoned in shelters and fewer dogs euthanized. We need you to help push further ahead of the competition, and to win $100,000 for a new dog park for the community. You can help by recruiting people to the team. Like Jacksonville Bark for Your Park on Facebook and bark twice a day! 1) PetSafe and again 2) Facebook

Emily Berry on Facebook or Emily Berry resume

Volunteers have built up great trails on the east edge of Mauvaisterre Lake in Jacksonville (On Woods Lane, first bridge south of Country Club Road). Cyclists from all over the region come ride, you should check them out, too.

Here’s a different way to enjoy the trails — at night. Rides start about an hour before sunset. The bravest riders will hang around until after the sun goes down, strap on lights and ride into the dark. Arooooooo!

Please check the Jacksonville Recreational Trails​ Facebook page before the ride to make sure they’re not too muddy. Please respect the work of volunteers and don’t rut the trails. Updates on the group’s Facebook event. No registration — no sponsor. This is a crowd-sourced event on park land.

First ride is Friday July 31st. If you can’t make it Friday, come out Saturday.

Later in the year rides can switch to Friday, or Friday and Saturday (depending on feedback). Come on out and enjoy the trails with friends. Here’s the full schedule for the year.

  • July 31-Aug 1 7pm – Alpha Dog Ride
  • Aug 28-29 7pm – Back to School
  • Sept 25-26 6pm – Harvest Moon
  • Oct 30-31 5pm – Halloween Ride (wear a costume)
  • Nov 27-28 3:30pm – Work off the Turkey Ride
Work Day Audubon Woods Lane Bike Trails Sunday 121202 TownBrook Town Brook Photos by Steve & Tiffany of Warmowski Photography 217.473.5581 EWRM/The Image Works

Work Day Audubon Woods Lane Bike Trails Sunday 121202 TownBrook Town Brook
Photos by Steve & Tiffany of Warmowski Photography 217.473.5581 EWRM/The Image Works

Edited — Ride scheduled for July 4th called off due to the wettest June in modern Illinois history. Please respect work of volunteers and don’t ride and rut muddy trails.