I know some of you will remember a "Memorial Stage" we wanted to build at Mauch Chunk Lake Park. The stage was to memorialize a former employee, Rick Johnson, who passed away on May 5, 2012 from pancreatic cancer. He worked at the lake from 1974 until he passed in May.

Rick was a devoted employee. He hardly ever missed a day of work. He was at work an hour before he had to be and never left early or said I'm taking a day off. He was there because he wanted to be. You can laugh, but he even worked extra days so he wouldn't use vacation time when we married. He was that dedicated to the park and his coworkers. He always felt he needed to be at work. Sick, sore back, etc. He was always there. Vacation only happened in winter months when the park wasn't as busy. He loved his job and everyone he worked with.

Rick was also a husband, a father, a son and a brother. He was also a son-in-law, brother-in-law and a wonderful uncle. He was loved by every heart he touched. Rick was a great friend to anyone he ever met.

Back to the stage. There have been six heritage festivals held at Mauch Chunk Lake. Rick had asked the commissioners two years prior to his passing about building a stage. Can't recall what the reasons are at this time, but it was a NO.

On Sept. 20, 2012, myself and Rick's co-worker and friend went to a commissioners meeting. Thought this would be my opportunity to see if we could get the stage built in Rick's memory. I read a statement to the commissioners, it wasn't easy. They listened and understood how difficult this was for me. They agreed that "Rick deserved more than a tree or a bench, possibly the camp store could be dedicated" was the statement. 100 percent behind you. Get your people together. Get everything in order and make an appointment.

Long story short: We did, we went and we got a "No" on Jan. 29, 2013: "Due to economic reason and my husband's love of music, we will strategically place his name on a cabin in the camping area". We were crushed. Everyone involved could not believe that was their answer. "For everything Rick has done at that park." He has built practically every building out here (with help of course) and this was the answer.

We didn't ask for their help in getting anything for the stage. We had everything we needed to build on our own. We just need an OK to put on the property. Instead, they offered a cabin in the woods.

I would hope after seeing this maybe a plaque, outside the main office, letting everyone know what a valuable and dedicated employee they lost. Or maybe a street sign coming into the park. Rick Johnson Drive. Could be another idea. Completely saddened by County Commissioners.

No Memorial

Wife and Son

Shelley Johnson

Joey Martonyak

Mother/Son

Connie Johnson

Jody Johnson

and stage Crew