Gene Littrell Memorial Shelter breaks ground at Helvey Park

Kiwanis members, city staff and elected officials alongside sponsors toss dirt in the air during a groundbreaking for the Gene Littrell Memorial Shelter Nov. 3 in Smithville.

SMITHVILLE — Smithville Kiwanis has been saving and planning for over a year to build a shelter at Helvey Park. Now, with sponsorship through family and veteran-owned LJ’s Handyman Service, Ron Major at Major Lumber, Byler Steel and the Swearingins with Quality Truss, in addition, to support from the city, ground is broken at the park and construction is underway for the Gene Littrell Memorial Shelter.

“I know this is a project that has been in the works for a long time and we are happy to be able to break ground today,” David Cooper, president of Smithville Kiwanis said during a ground breaking Tuesday, Nov. 3. “This project came about way back when Kiwanis had a (concessions) trailer fund before I was part of that group. A few years ago we sold the trailer and put the money in the bank and wondered what to do with it.”

Starla Janes, former president, said the shelter is being named for Gene Littrell who was a big community contributor, helped create the concessions trailer and was one of the founders of the Smithville Kiwanis Chapter.

“He recently passed away this year,” Janes said.

Janes added that the profit from the trailer didn’t pay for everything. They hope to continue to receive donations that will be put toward adding picnic tables, grills and hopefully a bathroom with water in the future.

“This project cost $18,154.18,” Cooper added. “That’s just the shelter.”

The structure will be pretty typical, Cooper continued. It will be 22 feet by 34 feet, open sided with concrete flooring. The ceiling and roof will be made of steel and the posts will be cedar.

Residents will be able to reserve the shelter through the city. The project is slated to be finished before the end of the year, depending on weather.

“We wanted to make sure this park is more useful for the community,” Cooper said. “We also are really excited to use it with our annual fishing derby held in June by Kiwanis.”

Northwest Editor Sean Roberts can be reached at or 389-6606.

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