- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 1, 2014

BICKNELL, Ind. (AP) - What started out as a simple plan to relocate a few corner stones from the old Bicknell High School gymnasium by the city’s parks department has grown into a much bigger operation to commemorate local history.

The stones recall the construction of the gym by the federal News Deal-era Works Progress Administration in 1938-39. One stone lists the names of then-Mayor Lloyd Jones and members of the city council, as well as the project architects, Sutton & Routt of Vincennes. A second recalls members of the board of education and school superintendent Harold Axe, and the third that the gym was WPA project No. 5-20002.

Right now, the aging monuments are sitting on wooden platforms without so much as a sign to memorialize the pieces.

Parks board member Max Nickless told the Vincennes Sun-Commercial (https://bit.ly/1ozmT7o ) that youngsters in the area haven’t heard the local history stories that lay behind the pieces.

“My kids, their friends, they don’t know anything about those pieces, but they really do hold a lot of history, a lot of stories, and it’s time people learn our history,” he said. “Those corner stones are just there, they just exist right now, and we want to do something more, something that will remember our heritage.”

In addition doing something to more-prominently display the stones, parks board members are also thinking of constructing a memorial wall with artwork and pictures from the city’s past and perhaps some recognition of the area’s prominence in the coal industry.

“We have several ideas, but nothing is set in stone,” Nickless said. “There are five of us on the board, and we all have our own ideas, so we’re piecing it together now, because one thing we all agree on is that we want to do it right.”

Board members will spend the next several months touring and researching other communities to see what has worked and what hasn’t. Work is expected to begin next year with a completion early next fall, he said.

“Funding, of course, becomes essential when we begin to discuss these projects, and when the project grows, but it’s time we teach our kids, our future, about our past,” Nickless said. “If we could get this completed by this time next year, I think the board would be pretty happy.

“Planning into the spring, building in the summer will put us on the right track.”


Information from: Vincennes Sun-Commercial, https://www.vincennes.com

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