By Bryan Hoopaugh
Heritage Park filled with Willistonians last Thursday for the much anticipated opening ceremonies for the new clock tower on the newly refurbished park centerpiece, the pavilion.
Mother Nature helped by giving the crowd a cool breeze and mild weather to celebrate the ribbon cutting.
Mayor Gerald Hethcoat thanked those who gathered for the festivities and then recognized special guests and major contributors in the organization and implementation of the city benefiting project.
Williston City Council President Jason Cason gave the invocation, which was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance with the WHS ROTC Color Guard.
Dr. Ken Schwiebert, chairman of the Community Redevelopment Agency(CRA) was the guest speaker and revealed to the members of the audience the vision that ultimately brought the project to fruition.
“We were looking to do something that would improve the appearance of Heritage Park and downtown Williston,” Schwiebert said.
In addition to the downtown appearance, the project is expected to increase property values of the downtown area as well as encourage home owners and businesses to invest in upgrades themselves.
The funding for the project came from the ad valorem taxes paid by property owners. A portion of these funds are allocated to the CRA.
In addition to the clock tower, there are several other projects the CRA have had approved that are still waiting on funding, Schweibert said.
One of the projects is landscaping around the clock tower and a veterans’ memorial will be a lighted black granite flag pole base that will display a tribute to each of the U.S. armed forces around the base.
A walkway going around the memorial will be placed and residents will be able to purchase bricks to go in the walkway to honor various veterans and residents of the Williston area.
A brick with three lines of text may be purchased for $50 per dedication.
The total cost of the flag pole and veterans’ walkway will be upward of $20,000, Schwiebert said and will be paid for through community donations, brick sales as well as designated CRA funds.
The ceremony lasted well over an hour with entertainment provided by the Methodist Church Youth Group and the playing of songs in chimes by Mary O’Banyoun-Abdullah.
Among those attending was State Rep. Charlie Stone, Sheriff Bobby McCallum and Joe Hoffman, the builder on the project.