By Jesse Wood
Dozens of people attended the ribbon cutting ceremony of the Rotary Gazebo in Memorial Park in downtown Blowing Rock on Thursday afternoon.
The ceremony included Lynn Lawrence, wife of Mayor J.B. Lawrence, singing the national anthem and the Watauga Community Band performing some tunes. In addition to Councilman Al Yount, the Town Manager Scott Fogleman and Blowing Rock Rotary President John Marshall said a few words.
“We all know three minds don’t think alike,” Yount said, but the entire board was “totally united” in supporting this project.”
The project began in March after the Town of Blowing Rock approved plans and set aside a portion of funds, county maintenance staff and equipment for the replacement of the rotting gazebo that was built in 1976. The goal was to finish the project in time for Memorial Day Weekend, which occurred.
The idea for the project came about when the Watauga Community Band offered to donate $10,000 to build a bigger gazebo for musical performances and community events. The Blowing Rock Rotary Club thought the idea was worthy and agreed to donate an additional $40,000 for the project. Then the two groups approached the Blowing Rock Town Council.
“Wow. What a great idea that blossomed into this,” Fogleman said at the ceremony on Thursday.
The overall construction was estimated to cost $78,540. Of that total, the Town of Blowing Rock donated $3,000 cash and $4,640 worth of labor for demolition. But it in addition, the Town of Blowing Rock will fund $34,880 of site improvements that will be earmarked in the parks and recreation bond funding that was approved during the November election.
The other funding is as follows:
- $40,000 from the Rotary Club
- $10,000 from the Watauga Community Band
- $10,000 in materials from New River Building Supply
- $5,500 in labor from 4 Forty Four Construction
- $3,000 in labor from David Moore Builders
- $2,400 in labor from Steve Price, Architect
Other donors include Curt Andrews, Suzanne Wilson, Designcast Concrete and High Country Painting.
High Country Press spoke with Blowing Rock Rotary Club President John Marshall before the ceremony and noted that one of the impressive parts of the project was the community effort that brought town leaders, individuals, local businesses and organizations together to ensure the completion of the project.
“It just came out beautiful,” Marshall said. “Everybody chipped in and that’s the thing that makes it really nice,” Marshall said. “It was such a community-wide project.”
Marshall also thanked all of the individuals and businesses that have supported the Blowing Rock Rotary Club’s fundraisers, which made the donation to this project possible. Much of the funds came from proceeds from the Rotary Club’s main fundraisers, the annual charity auction and the Charity Horse Show.
The new gazebo is 30-feet wide, while the old gazebo was 14-feet wide. Stones along the walkway were removed, saved for another project and replaced with a stamped-concrete sidewalk. The gravel and dirt access road was replaced with traditional concrete.
Among other renovations, wooden benches were removed and park benches, which can be removed during a performance, sit underneath the gazebo.
4 Forty Four Construction was the general contractor on the project.
“It’s really going to be a facelift for the town,” 4 Forty Four owner Kevin Troyer said when the project began. “We are excited about being a part of a collaborative [project] like this in the community.”
Troyer was right on the money as the new gazebo has really transformed Memorial Park in downtown Blowing Rock.