Copenhagen woman builds community pavilion in honor of her late husband | Company

COPENHAGEN — Every day since she lost her husband of 42 years to cancer in January 2019, Shari A. Simmons has found ways, big and small, to honor him and her community. A few months ago, she found the perfect way to leave a lasting memorial: a public pavilion in the park.

In April, Ms Simmons told the Copenhagen Village Council that she was interested in building a pavilion in the village park on Main Street, next to the River Deer. She would do all the work and all she asked was that it be named after her Ted – Theodore A. Simmons.

“If my plan works, it should be pretty cool,” Ms Simmons said. “I just want to give back. People were good when Ted died and I always felt guilty about the money they raised. I do a lot of anonymous donations through GoFundMe pages and things like that, but what our community needs is something positive, something good. I just want to do something good.”

The idea for the pavilion came from hearing about the challenges faced by the community service group Copenhagen Cares, which was established last year to run annual events like the Christmas parade and provide other community-focused activities. The group needed a place to hold events.

She decided that helping them help the community, while offering something directly to local residents, was the perfect way for her to give back.

“Copenhagen Cares does really good things and whenever they have something they always need to rent a tent or pick up a tent or stuff like that,” she said. “It’s going to be a place where they can have events — if they want to have a craft fair there, if they want to have a farmers market there or an ice cream party — it’s going to be a place where they can have it.”

Although she first envisioned a simple post barn structure, discussions with her son, Scott J. Simmons, led to the final concept – a post and beam structure with a twist.

“It’s going to be pretty amazing, actually…a little nicer than your average pole barn,” Ms Simmons said. “In the middle, where a beam passes, I’m going to have a big tree trunk.”

His son and two of his fellow chainsaw carvers who will be visiting upstate for the Jefferson County Fair and Lumberjack Field Days will work together to carve art in the center pole. At this stage, there is no set design, but Ms. Simmons and Scott are open to ideas.

Over the past seven days, the project has moved forward rapidly.

On June 27, Ms Simmons received planning permission and she found out on Tuesday that she had been approved by the Pratt Northam Foundation for a $10,000 grant.

The grant eased some pressures, not least because for Ms. Simmons, one idea begets another that ultimately requires a larger budget.

Some of these ideas have included changing the design from a gravel base to a poured cement base, adding two metal barbecue grills, and giving a facelift to the park garage which contains “a lot of stuff” belonging to the village.

“It will be a place for Copenhagen Cares to put its flower pots and Christmas decorations and because it has all this old tin on it (the roof) – it’s a beautiful building – it just needs a little love,” she said. .

The support she received from other members of the community who donated their time, talents and connections was instrumental in making the project a reality.

A local architect, Matthew J. Cooper, donated his time and skills to design the 30ft by 30ft pavilion, helping Ms Simmons secure the engineer’s stamp on the design required for planning permission . After talking to people about the swear words and vulgar graffiti emblazoned on the bridge supports that can be seen from the park, all that was left was a newly painted gray wall the next time she returned, giving the whole park a new sight with its fresh new look.

Even in its infancy, the pavilion project gained momentum in the community when Ms. Simmons told landowners adjacent to the park about her idea.

“I said I wanted you all to agree because if people come they’ll kind of be in your backyard. The first guy said, ‘Oh Shari, can you please clean up this area here? Burdocks grow 10 feet tall, “and I said no problem, I’ve got that for you.”

Her son brought a skid steer loader to the park on Tuesday to clear unwanted brush and burdock and Ms Simmons expects the concrete slab to be poured this week.

Even the workers and materials for the project are the result of the community. Amish masonry and carpentry crews will construct the lodge using locally grown, Amish-milled lumber and cement purchased in the area. Landscaping will also be a community project.

“I don’t hire a big fancy landscaper. There’s a whole bunch of planters in town – they always give plants – I want it to be just irises, daylilies, just natural and easy,” she said.

The village council – which had previously invested in a student-made bicycle rack and picnic tables as part of a ‘frontage and streetscapes’ grant scheme in Lewis County – is also enthusiastic by the initiative of Mrs Simmons.

“She’s awesome,” village administrator Kimberly Vogt said. “She’s ready to roll…When she’s got something on her mind, she goes for it.”

Village leaders hope Ms Simmons will inspire others in the community to take action.

“The village council is aware of anything you want to do, just tell us what you want,” Ms Vogt said. “We wrote in our recommendation to Pratt Northam for the grant that we couldn’t be prouder to support such a community project, because that’s really what it is. Community driven and supported.

As long as it is also used by the community, Ms. Simmons will consider the project a success.

“That’s my goal, for it to be a place where people can come together,” she said. “It’s going to be there for everyone to use…something to be proud of.”

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