Alice Knight Memorial

As most of you know, an effort is being made to establish a memorial for Alice Knight at Coonskin Park.  Most of you receiving this e-mail knew Alice, but for those who didn't, the Nature Trail at Coonskin is being named for her in honor of her tireless work with the Friends of Coonskin organization to successfully protect and preserve the heart of Coonskin Park when it was in danger of being swallowed up by an airport expansion project.  At the time of her death in January, 2008, Alice was also actively involved with the Master Naturalist program and was vice-president of the Handlan Chapter of the Brooks Bird Club.  She was a talented artist, expressing nature's beauty in her paintings and photographs of birds, wildflowers, butterflies, and more.
When the announcement was made at Alice's memorial service that the Coonskin trail would be named for her, some money was spontaneously donated toward constructing a memorial marker at the trail's entrance.  Since then, a committee of Alice's friends has been working on this project.  The goal is to construct a memorial that appropriately represents Alice, one that is artful, as she was, yet modest rather than obtrusive, one that is made of natural materials and blends seamlessly into its surroundings.  Architectural designer Russ Young and landscape designer Ron Wilkerson have both donated their time and skills to this project.  You can now see the memorial taking shape at the trailhead, which is across the road from the Gorman shelter area.  The base for the marker is in place, assembled from natural stones, and there are two low benches, also made of stones.  The marker that will be constructed on the base will have the trail name on the front side and information about Alice on the back.  We hope to incorporate some nature images on the marker and on the flat, seating areas of the benches.
The vision is that this memorial will serve several purposes.  It will serve the functional purpose of clearly designating where the trail begins.  The previous sign was easy to miss.  With the benches, the site will have a restful, meditative aspect.  And by honoring Alice's love for nature and her commitment to protecting it, we hope to inspire others to move in those directions. 
A number of people have asked us whether more money is needed to complete the project.  The short answer is yes.  Not surprisingly, the money that was originally collected will not be sufficient, because at that point we didn't have a specific plan or projected cost in place.  We have used volunteer labor and donated materials as much as possible, but expenses for materials and for the skilled labor needed for the stone work have added up.  If you would like to help complete this project, donations can be sent to Bev Wright, who is treasurer of the bird club (305 Mount View Drive, Charleston, WV, 25314-1040).  Any check made out to the Handlan Chapter of the Brooks Bird Club (designate on the check that it's for the Alice Knight Memorial) is a tax deductible contribution.  If you have any questions or would like more information about the project, you are welcome to e-mail or call me (925-6379). 
We hope to have a dedication ceremony for the memorial and the renaming of the trail this spring or summer.  I will let you know when we have a definite date. 
Jim Waggy




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