The Columbia County Community Events Committee hopes the bench dedicated to Otis Crowell, the influential Columbia County real estate developer who died in December 2011, will be the first of many.
The handsome metal bench, paid for by the Coalition for Quality Government, overlooks the playground at Evans Towne Center Park and is one of eight planned at the facility. It was dedicated at a ceremony Wednesday.
Columbia County Commission Chair Ron Cross, speaking to the crowd of family and friends who braved cold winds, said that Crowell, and his contributions to the community, cross his mind frequently.
“Now it might just be that as you get older you get more emotional,” he said. “But I can tell you that two or three times in the last month I found myself thinking that I should give Otis a call about something before I remembered he’s not here.”
Later, his widow, Linda Crowell, said that even if he had been able to attend, he probably wouldn’t have.
“No, Otis wouldn’t be here,” she said with a laugh. “It’s far too cold.”
Seated on the bench, her arm draped over the plaque that bears her late husband’s name, Crowell said she found the idea of having a public place where the family could come and remember Otis appealing.
“It’s very important,” she said. “Our youngest grandson is 3-years-old and he plays here. So it’s good to know that he’ll be right here, we’ll be right here,
Stacie Adkins, the Columbia County Community and Leisure Services Recreation and Events Manager, said the plan is to have eight benches and several trees. The dedication cost for the benches is $1300 and all plaque messaging must be approved. Adkins said she wasn’t sure what a tree dedication would cost, but that it would be less than a bench and, as with the benches, plaque messaging must be approved.
Proceeds from the memorial program benefit the Columbia County Arts Development Fund, which provides financial support to local non-profit organizations with the goal of offsetting costs related to renting Columbia County venues and facilities.
Adkins said if the demand for benches outstrips supply, more could be installed in the park.