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Lincolnville resident leaves mark on Marion with park wall

Staff writer

With Chingawassa Days set to take over the grounds of Central Park on Friday, bricklayer Philip Klenda is finishing the façade of the park’s new stage and restroom facilities.

Klenda, 33, has been spending recent days at Central Park’s center stage, turning a drab concrete block wall into a tasteful rock design.

“It takes an art to do this,” he said. “Not everybody can lay stone, or lay brick, or be a machinist.”

Klenda was chosen as low bidder to do the stage. He is a one-man crew. Having done several projects in Marion over his seven-year solo career, Klenda says the wall of the stage is the biggest project he’s ever done.

Klenda graduated North Central Kansas Technical College’s bricklaying program after starting out in carpentry. He worked with crews in Hutchinson and Wichita for five years before growing tired of travel and returning to Lincolnville to farm.

The son of Val and Julie Klenda of Lincolnville, Philip carried on his bricklaying business on the side.

As his own operation, Klenda does all the work — from mixing the mortar, to cutting the stones, to laying them on the wall.

“I worked with crews; they had people to do that stuff,” he said. “All I had to do was put stone on the wall.”

Working alone is not all bad, however.

“There’s no one to get mad at,” he said. “If there were someone else here, they’d be taking money away from me.”

Klenda said he’s likely to have the whole face of the stage finished before Chingawassa Days, but the cap stones, which will run along the top of the stage, won’t be in for four weeks.

“We just ordered those yesterday,” he said Tuesday.

He said the city didn’t put pressure on him to finish before the festival. A separate stage is erected for the main acts of Chingawassa Days. Klenda’s work is weather-permitting, anyway.

“If it rained every day, I wouldn’t get very far,” he said.

The city has provided help in setting up some of his supplies, but most of his help comes from his own tools. He uses a hot saw to cut large stones to fit before shaping them with a stone hammer and laying them with his brick trowel. He was laying stones in the top left corner of the wall Tuesday, the final area of the wall’s face in need of stone.

Other than some teasing from his father-in-law, Tom Thomas, who poured concrete for an earlier phase of the project, friends and family, including his wife, Leann, have been supportive of him.

He said he comes to Marion somewhat frequently because his bank is here. He’s proud of the work he’s putting into the wall, and it’s something he’ll look back on when he drives past.

“It’s a big job,” he said. “I know it’ll stand for many years. Hopefully it will outlast me.”

Last modified June 3, 2015

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