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Officials consider project to remember MCLP worker

Published September 21. 2012 05:02PM

The widow of a Carbon County employee who passed away earlier this year is hoping to honor her husband's memory.

During the county commissioners' meeting on Thursday, Shelley Johnson, the widow of Frederick L. "Rick" Johnson, who passed away on May 5 after his battle with cancer, approached the board and asked them to consider doing something to honor her husband's dedication to his job as the head of maintenance at Mauch Chunk Lake Park.

"My husband, Rick, worked for the county for 38 years," she said. "He helped build the park from the ground up."

She continued that when Rick was diagnosed with cancer, he worried not only about his family, but also his family at the park, which he loved.

Shelley added that Rick's dream was to see a stage built at the park that would allow for musical acts performing at events like the annual Bluegrass Heritage Festival, which was held earlier this month.

"He has drawn up his own version of what he would have liked. I think that is what he deserves," she said to the commissioners, adding that she feels the memorial tree that was initially planned is not enough. "I have people who are willing to donate their time, money, and lumber to help make this a reality for him and I think that should be taken into consideration."

The board responded positively to Shelley's heartfelt request.

"We have had some conversations about this and we too feel that a tree would not be enough for what Rick has done for the county over the years," said Commissioner Wayne Nothstein, chairman. "We talked about possibly naming the camp store after him because that was his last major project, but I think we should certainly look at and discuss the possibility of doing a stage and naming it in Rick's honor."

Shelley said that she thinks a stage would be a great thing for the park to have because it would allow for entertainment throughout the summer months.

Nothstein suggested she organize a committee and then contact the county to set up a meeting about their ideas.

Commissioner William O'Gurek said that the county "recognizes Rick's contributions to the park and that it was something very close to his heart."

"Let me reassure you that these three guys sitting here have the same feelings for Rick's contributions to the park that you do," he said. "We will do something, now it's just figuring out what's best to memorialize and perpetuate his honor and memory."

Commissioner Thomas J. Gerhard echoed Nothstein and O'Gurek's thoughts.

"You have 100 percent support," he said. "We will be sitting down to discuss what our plans will be."

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