History lesson

Beth Sergent

June 3, 2014

POINT PLEASANT — Because Riverfront Park has become a staple of downtown Point Pleasant, sometimes the effort (both past and present) to bring it to life are taken for granted — much like the beauty of the rivers can be overlooked when you see them every day.

However, just because beauty is taken for granted doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

On Tuesday, Darlene Haer, of Point Pleasant, who has been with the park from its inception to its current state, spoke about its history, as well as the history of Mason County, to West Virginia University President E. Gordon Gee and his staff.

Haer spoke about the dream to build the park starting in 1988 and how it wasn’t dedicated until October 2004 — 43 grants, numerous donations, fund raising and $6 million later, the park was opened. Haer spoke about writing those grants with the editing help of Superintendent Suzanne Dickens who called Haer “relentless” in getting the money to get the dream of the park realized.

Haer said the amphitheater seats 800 people and the large shelter house alone cost $600,000 to build with pillars going deep into the earth — adding the entire park was built for generations to come.

Not included in that $6 million price tag are the murals, statues and sound system that Haer estimated cost around $1 million. The sound system is still being completed and a new statue of Lord Dunmore was recently placed at the park.

As for the murals, Haer said they were meant to be an “outdoor history lesson” with the paint used in the murals meant to last 100 years.

Haer told Gee, Point Pleasant was “West Virginia’s best kept secret.”

While touring the historic murals, Gee agreed, saying: “This whole park blows me away, I had no idea. They say it’s a best kept secret, but it should be widely trumpeted. This is a great historical landmark here.”

Haer also spoke about the many other museums and tourist attractions within Mason County to Gee and his staff as part of her presentation which was part of a reception for Gee’s visit on Tuesday.