GALLIPOLIS — The bandstand in Gallipolis City Park, along with the Kerr Memorial Fountain and park electrical updates, could soon be seeing restoration work.
It’s all part of funding granted by the state’s Capital Budget Bill.
An estimated $150,000 is coming to the park after local entities approached state Rep. Ryan Smith, R-Bidwell, and state Sen. Bob Peterson, R-Sabina. The capital budget hones in on the needs of state government, schools and economic development within Ohio settlements.
Meagan Barnes, Restore Project co-chair, originally addressed the Gallipolis City Commission in June 2015 about getting the Kerr Memorial Fountain functional again as well as repairing growing rot on the bandstand. Barnes last year had noted the group had intended to raise money through “grassroots effort.” State representatives were approached by Restore Project members and planted the seed to get the initiatives funded. After meeting with Gene Greene, Gallipolis city manager, Barnes and her colleagues decided the target number need for the proposed maintenance project would be around $75,000.
“I am happy to work with the City of Gallipolis and the Restore Project to help restore what I consider the crown jewel of our community, the City Park,” Smith said.
With the announcement of capital funding, Greene said he anticipates money will also be put toward completing the park’s electrical upgrades. Half the park had previously been funded by grants from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Electrical upgrades running along Second Avenue and Court Street are anticipated to be part of improvements made. Electrical upgrades should help manage the needs of events such as the River Recreation Festival.
Frank Davison, of Ohio Valley Bank, has served as Restore Project’s co-chair and treasurer. He has been responsible for the project’s finance management.
“The Restore Project effort, in the Gallipolis City Park, began as a conversation initiated by Meagan Barnes, expressing her desire to see Kerr Memorial Fountain function again, ” said Jennifer Walker, Project Restore liaison. “For several days, we shared ideas on how to bring this much needed repair about. Within a couple of weeks, we had a name, a logo and a Facebook page in place. As soon as the word spread about our plan to formally initiate this project on July 2, 2015, we received an outpouring of support and positive feedback from the local community.”
Walker said the goal of the project was to increase the park’s beauty and usability.
“We expanded our fundraising effort to include the repair and restoration of the historic bandstand,” Walker said. “Due to the diligence and commitment to improve Gallia County, our state representative, Ryan Smith, along with Meagan Barnes, were instrumental in making the original idea become a reality. Like so many other local residents, the City Park and its iconic landmarks hold a lifetime of memories for me and my family. I am grateful to all who supported, worked on and encouraged this unique community endeavor.”
Mrs. Minnie Kerr, wife of local deceased pharmacist Charles Kerr, entered into a contract with Saunders Monument Co. on Aug. 22, 1925, to build the monument. The contract states the marble of the fountain monument “shall be of the best grade of select stock Georgia marble.”
Locals say the fountain stopped working around a decade ago.
According to information gathered from the Gallia County Historical Society, Charles Kerr was a member of the local Masonic lodge. At one point, the Kerr family offered money to Gallia Academy if the school would change its name to Kerr. The money was turned down and, as a result, “the money was spent on the fountain and other benefactions to the citizens of the community.”
Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.