Grant awarded, project proceeds
BERLIN -- Marshall County's been awarded a state grant to help fund construction of a picnic pavilion at the Berlin Spring and county planning commissioners have approved the site plan for the project.
Those are the latest steps in a long journey to improve the idyllic site that includes the Berlin Rock, a rostrum used by two presidents and 20 other elected leaders, including senators, congressmen, governors and judges, before a metal sign was posted there in 1925.
For decades, the spring was privately held, but the spring, adjoining land and half of Cedar Creek that flows from the cave there were donated to the people of Berlin as represented by the Berlin Community Fire Department. Firefighters have since given the property to the county and it's seen by some as a potential starting point for a county parks and/or recreation department.
More recently, County Mayor Joe Boyd Liggett has shepherded an application for grant money to help build a pavilion. Now, the community fire department has formed a committee of volunteers to raise money and help to design and build the pavilion.
"We're going to try to build this thing with volunteers," Mark King, a leader of the Berlin community pavilion project committee, said recently with County Building Official Don Nelson at one of the picnic tables donated by Tankersley Concrete in Lewisburg.
Fundraising events are anticipated, but not planned.
"They want to give the community an opportunity to contribute," Nelson said. "The grant permits in-kind donations."
In-kind donations include donated work and materials. A value is assigned to labor with different dollar amounts for electricians, professional services such as architects, and construction labor.
The $11,000 grant is from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. Another $11,000 of work and/or money is to be raised.
"The state wanted a parks and recreation board, or some such government entity to accept responsibility" for the money and the project, King said.
Without such a panel, the money was received by the county general fund as supervised by the mayor and the county commissioners' budget committee.
"It's like what Joe (Boyd Liggett) said, 'At some point, the county ought to have a county park program,'" King said, endorsing the idea that would create a revenue stream for that panel's programs.
Meanwhile, the Berlin Spring property has been used as a park just because it's there and is a good place for various activities. It was one of several stops by small mule trains that were traveling to Columbia for the city's annual Mule Day Festival. And local boy scouts have used the land at the spring.
"Scouts use this property for their walk-over ceremony from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts," King said.
A new bridge was recently built across Cedar Creek by Trevor Turner when he was working on his Eagle Project to qualify for promotion in the Boy Scouts.
The previous bridge "was kind of getting in bad shape," King said.
Turner asked King if he could build a replacement bridge and the community committeeman said, "I told him, 'Go for it, big boy.'"
Now, announcements are to be made about how others can help toward construction of a pavilion.
Members of the community's pavilion committee include King, Joe Haynes, Judy Haynes, Ricky Liggett, P.J. Johns, Mark Ivey and Jean Smith.
The pavilion is to be built parallel to the path leading to the spring, and its southwest wall will be facing the Talking Rock.
That's been a place where some in the county have wistfully said political speeches should be made during campaigns here.
Asked if President Barack Obama should deliver a re-election stump speech from the Berlin Rock, King replied, "Then we'd have Barack on the Rock."