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Plans for Rotary park to include Wilson memorial

With the City of Thomson looking for ways to get people back downtown, one group is hoping it can help with making the city more welcoming.

The recently proposed "Gateway to Thomson" -- as it has been described -- has a defined look now. Plans for the landscape design of Rotary Centennial Park were presented to the Thomson Rotary Club last week.

The project, which was previously reported in The McDuffie Mirror, started as a way for the club to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Rotary International. The lot next to the fire station on Washington Road will slowly be transformed into a place where people can gather for picnics or take strolls through beds of blooming flowers.

"We were asked to try to do a project in our community that represents Rotary and what we stand for," said Kenneth Usry, co-chair of the Rotary Centennial Park committee and a Thomson city councilman. "This was the suggestion that came from someone that we take the park that's not really being utilized to its fullest and go in and try to...make it more attractive."

The triangular shaped park is currently slated to have a fountain, a bridge over a dry creek bed, azaleas, camellias, dogwoods and other trees and flowers. Picnic tables will be moved to a shady area to enable comfortable picnicking, and handicap accessible parking will be added.

The design of the park, which includes a brick pathway similar to Journal Street, was crafted to incorporate different elements of downtown Thomson as well as the ice house which used to stand on the property where the park will be constructed. Those elements were intentionally included by local landscape designers Lynn Pledger and Marcus Matthews.

"I wanted the traditional kind of old southern garden that you'd stroll through 100 years ago, that kind of atmosphere," Ms. Pledger said. "I kept the idea in mind of when I was a child and I used to go there to the ice house...When I was little standing in front of that big freezer door and they'd open it up. All that frosty air would come billowing out."

Also included in the park will be a memorial to Command Sergeant Major Jerry Wilson who lost his life in Iraq this past November. The designers and the park committee -- led by co-chairs Mr. Usry and Doug Keir -- thought it would be a fitting tribute to the Thomson native.

"It was the general feeling of a lot of Rotarians that that would be a good gesture," Mr. Usry said. "The community had contributed some funds to do some kind of memorial for Jerry, and I think his mother is receptive to do that."

The Thomson Rotary Club will be raising the funds necessary to complete the park in the coming year. Club members will also be helping in the construction of the park which is scheduled for a July 1, 2005 completion.

Web posted on Thursday, May 20, 2004

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