ST. CLAIRSVILLE — The community is coming together to renovate South Park and give families and young people a place to gather.
On Friday, members of the South Park Community Project Group gathered to dedicate two new picnic tables and benches in honor of two pillars of the community who have served the area and the city’s 2nd Ward.
Bill Brooks, who serves as co-chairman of the group, said it has raised $1,600 so far with a garage sale in early September.
“We’re proud that we’re doing it without using taxpayer dollars,” he said. “Every nickel we get, we put into the playground.”
He said members also plan to gain 501(c)(3) status to seek American Rescue Plan funding. The group has also placed a sign at the park entrance and trimmed bushes.
One table was dedicated to Sherman and Irene Lyons, who were committed to serving the less fortunate. They served on the St. Clairsville Council of Churches and volunteered at the food pantry. Sherman Lyons was a president of the Beau Brummell Social Club of progressive African Americans in the Ohio Valley, and Irene held many social events to keep youth on a positive path.
Irene Lyons died in 2009; her husband preceded her in death.
“Their legacy is one of love and service,” Joyce Brooks, wife of Bill Brooks, said at the dedication. “Neither ever knew a stranger and welcomed all with open arms. … They would be humbled and feel blessed to know they are being honored here today in the neighborhood they raised their children and watched their grandchildren be raised.”
“They were community icons,” Bill Brooks said. “They were both good role models for the youth back in the day.”
Their daughter, Gina Lyons-Zebbs, and grandsons Phillip Powell, and Ronald Terry Lyons II of St. Clairsville, said the small park south of Clark Avenue held strong memories for them and they were happy to see the Lyons’ name commemorated.
“I was blessed to be raised by them,” Lyons-Zebbs said. “Just for their example and to have them as a role model. My parents were very religious-oriented and very old-school, pure values and ethics.”
“It’s truly a great honor and a blessing that they’re being honored,” Ronald Terry Lyons II said. “They always kept their doors open, and if somebody needed meals or somebody needed (anything) Irene said ‘come on in,’ and Sherman was always there to teach you and help you. … This is a great honor for them to be remembered.”
The other bench was dedicated to outgoing Councilman Frank Sabatino, who has represented the 2nd Ward for 24 years. He also has served on the Cumberland Trail Fire District Board, the city zoning board, the planning committee and other entities. He is a past grand knight in the Knights of Columbus and has been active in coaching junior sports. He is not seeking re-election.
“This is the community spirit that built this country,” Sabatino said. “Coming together and revitalizing the playground, the park here. … They’re proud of their community. This is America, the way America should be.”
“We want to do more. We want to honor more of our community,” Brooks said, adding the group also hopes to add a wall with names honoring others who have contributed to the area.
A shelter may also be constructed in the future. The group also intends to hold events for children.
“We want structured activities out here. We don’t just want toys and a swing,” Brooks said.
The park is city property. Safety and Service Director Jeremy Greenwood said the city is happy to work with the South Park Community Project Group. The city is also seeking grant funding to renovate the park.
Anyone interested in assisting the group can call Unified Bank at 740-699-2261 and donate to the South Park Community Project Group.
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