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Group planning Richland's 100th
Amon Park - 2009

Group planning Richland's 100th
By Joe Chapman, Herald staff writer

Any other city celebrating its incorporation twice in two years might be a bit confused.

But not Richland.

In a city that's been incorporated, unincorporated and incorporated again, multiple anniversary dates are just part of the territory.

In December, the city observed the 50th anniversary of reincorporation after 15 years of federal rule in the 1940s and '50s. The observance included TV broadcasts about Richland's history, showing a program at the community center about the 1958 Columbia High School state championship basketball team and a fireworks show over Howard Amon Park.

But a group of residents planning a centennial celebration for next year is reaching further back into time, back to the city's original incorporation in 1910.

"Here, 100 years after the original incorporation, most people in Richland have little, if any, knowledge of its existence and the people who started it all," Burt Pierard told the Richland City Council recently. "Our committee plans to change all that."

The committee, which is seeking affiliation with the Richland Kiwanis Club, plans to put on centennial presentations and displays throughout the first half of 2010 and provide two main community events.

The first is planned May 1 -- the first Saturday after the actual incorporation anniversary of April 28. It'll be at the Richland Community Center and will include a fashion show of styles of the day and other events still being conceived, said Pierard, committee chairman.

The other event will be a community picnic July 4, 2010, in front of the fingernail stage in Howard Amon Park. Free hot dogs and lemonade will be served, and a brass marching band in period uniforms will play John Phillip Sousa songs.

Ron Kathren, co-chair of the centennial committee, said the educational benefits of the celebration would play an important role.

"I think it's great to have the resource so new residents to the community as well as old residents can see how their community developed," Kathren said.

One other project the committee is working on would be the piece de resistance of the centennial celebration: A stone replica of the arch that used to sit in Howard Amon Park before the federal government removed it during Richland's unincorporated period.

Located where the north tennis court is now, the stone arch was about 10 feet high and 8 feet wide. Pierard first learned of the arch when he read Martha Berry Parker's book, Tales of Richland, White Bluffs & Hanford 1805-1943.

"This arch basically was the entrance to the old park that Howard Amon had deeded the land to the town back in 1911," Pierard said. "... I've been told this wasn't an unusual structure for parks in that era."

The centennial committee would like the Richland Arts Commission to hire a stone mason to build the replica arch. The committee is on the agenda to make a proposal to the committee at its meeting this month.

The committee will offer suggestions of where to put the arch in the park, but it won't be possible to put it at its original spot because of the tennis court.

"I'm of the opinion as long as we get the arch in the park that we could always put a plaque on it saying the original location was 50 yards from here, or something like that," Pierard said.

The addition of an arch to the park would have to go through review and approval processes, said Doug Strong, parks and recreation director for Richland. But he said the idea sounds like it would be an enhancement to the park.

"Certainly an important role of parks, whether city parks, county parks or state parks, is preservation of local history," Strong said.

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page started: 07/05/09
page updated: 09/05/09
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Amon Park 100th Anniversary