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SUNDAY, APRIL 8, 2007
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A dry cement pond
Commission to fix courthouse pool before installing jail fountain

By Sheryl Marsh
smarsh@decaturdaily.com · 340-2437

A reflecting pond that was once a picturesque feature in Cotaco Square on the north side of the Morgan County Courthouse is dry and the fish that once delighted children are only a memory.

The memorial plaques to this county’s dead soldiers appear on this ill-kept memorial.

Cracks, leaks cause draining

Cracks and leaks caused maintenance workers to drain the pond more than three years ago.

In the meantime, the County Commission plans to install another water attraction on jail property. Months ago a citizen donated four lion statues and a water fountain for the new county jail.

Commissioners agree that they need to get water running in the pond at the courthouse park before installing another water feature at the jail.

District 1 Commissioner and Commission Chairman Pro Tem Jeff Clark, District 2 Commissioner Ken Livingston, District 3 Commissioner Kevin Murphy and District 4 Commissioner Stacy George agreed that the pond needs repairing.

“We’re going to see what it’s going to take to fix it,” said Clark. “We will probably get an estimate. I think we all want it fixed.”

Murphy said, “I think we need to discuss fixing that one before we go spending money somewhere else.”

George said he had an item put on Tuesday’s meeting agenda to discuss repairing the reflecting pond. George said Commission Chairman John Glasscock told him an agenda item was not necessary. He said Glasscock told him that fixing the pond was his job and he would take care of it.

“We appreciate the donation for the jail, but we also need to show our appreciation for the one we already have,” said George. “The one in the park also has a wall that holds memorial plaques for fallen veterans. It’s beautiful when the water is running in it.”

Plaques on the pond wall carry the names of Morgan countians who died in this nation’s wars except the Civil War and World War II, which have separate memorials. A plaque on the courthouse pond shows that Ruby Hinton Nash donated a bridge to cover the waterfall in memory of Gaines Randall Stuart. Maintenance supervisor Wayne Lindley said the pond has been dry for about 31/2 years.

“Some of the concrete is busted and it leaks,” Lindley explained. “Water was flowing out of the pond onto the sidewalks and in the wintertime it froze and caused damage to the sidewalk.”

County Engineer Greg Bodley said he doesn’t know how much it will cost to repair the pond, but he knows what it will take to fix it.

“We would have to get it re-lined with sealer lining,” Bodley said.

Glasscock told The Daily he would like to discuss the reflecting pond during budget talks this summer.

Livingston said someone suggested filling the pond with dirt, but he’s not for doing that.

“I would like to fix it because it’s an asset to the park and to beautification in the city,” Livingston said.

Bodley said he is working with a Decatur official concerning installation of statues and a fountain at the jail. He said there has been no decision about a location for the items. A spot of interest is a plot where a car dealership used to be on Lee Street. The property is near a road leading to the front entrance of the jail. The commission had the building demolished and plans to landscape the property. County crews from all four districts broke up and hauled away the concrete pad Thursday.

The lion statues and fountain could go there or they could go at the actual location of the jail, Bodley said. Two of the stylized lions flank the jail entrance door now.

Glasscock said the county will provide installation of the lions and statues as well as utilities. He said he does not have a cost estimate. Site preparation for Cotaco Square began in September 1980 after several years of political conflict and citizen fundraising.

Commission Chairman Dick Fleming wanted to turn the site, which held the old courthouse, into a parking lot. Commissioners opposed that as did a citizens group, Businesses and Friends of the Arts. The group raised more than half of the estimated $115,000 cost. A citizens committee composed of people from across the county recommended the park.

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