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Leadership Dawson holds ribbon cutting for park by Dawson County welcome center
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The Leadership Dawson Class of 2018 held a ribbon cutting for the new park by the Dawson County welcome center on Aug. 3. - photo by Erica Schmidt

On Monday, Aug. 3, the Leadership Dawson Class of 2018 held the official ribbon cutting for its class project, the new park beside the Dawson County welcome center. 

The park, which has been a long time in the works, consists of a small gazebo, swing, brick pathway and green spaces to walk on. It also has a “library box,” where people can leave or take books, and a large sign which will eventually display a map of the county, and features three memorial bricks commemorating community members who have passed away.

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To raise money to build the park, members of the leadership class sold bricks to community members, groups and local businesses. - photo by Erica Schmidt

Carol Tyger, committee chair for the leadership program, said that each leadership class comes up with a unique project they organize and execute as a group. 

“Each class is charged with coming up with a project, and what I generally do is divide them into three groups and they have to come up with an idea and present it to the class,” Tyger said. “Then the whole class makes the decision.” 

Leadership class graduate, Karla Thomason, was in the group that came up with the idea for the park, and she spearheaded much of the work on the project. 

“At the time someone in our group worked for the Chamber, and it was her idea because she said that they were only open certain hours and when visitors came they didn’t know where to go,” Thomason said. “And our actual park and recs are way off this corridor, so this is a good place for people if they’re traveling just to come, take a break and walk their dogs; or a good place in this area where people who work here can have lunch out here instead of having to drive all the way to the real park and recs.” 

To pay for the park’s construction, members of the class sold engraved bricks to local community members, groups or businesses. Thomason also filled out the necessary paperwork for a grant from Home Depot, which gave the class an extra $4,000 to put toward the construction.

“The total we had was about $9,000 that we raised between the bricks and the grant to build the park,” Tyger said. 

In building the park, the class was aided by many other people outside of their group. 

“Boy Scout Troop 403 from Dahlonega actually built and stained the gazebo, and then we had different people come to grade it, help with the bricks and put the swing together and paint it,” Thomason said. “We had so many different people from the community help; pretty much anybody I asked to help, helped and it was a great team effort from all of us."

The construction of the park was not without its struggles. 

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The small park includes a gazebo, swing, pathway and green spaces for people to enjoy. - photo by Erica Schmidt

“Literally anything that could slow this project down has happened, so it’s been two years since we started it,” Thomason said. “The brick guy who engraved the bricks went through a health issue, then we had the rain ... for awhile, then we had scheduled the ribbon cutting twice and the Chamber had something else happening, and then we were supposed to finally do this in May and the pandemic happened.” 

But despite the struggle of finishing the park and holding the official ribbon cutting, the park has been a welcome addition to the community, drawing both those who work nearby and those who are just passing through. 

“During Covid, this park has been used every day; I’m usually here until 8 or so during the summer and almost every night I’ll see someone out here or see someone walking their dog,” Chamber of Commerce President Christie Moore said. “We really appreciate it, and hopefully y’all will bring your families and spend some time here because this really was a welcome addition to our welcome center.” 

According to Thomason, the wait to open the park turned out to be more than worth it. 

“I’m proud of how it turned out,” Thomason said, “and it’s actually nice that we had to wait this long because all the flowers are blooming and it’s really pretty.”