LOGAN — When the Logan High School Class of ’54 puts their heads together they normally come up with a brainstorm that involves not only fun and work, but also commitment and dedication to the community in which the majority have lived all their lives.
Celebrating the 65th high school reunion this past May, the class has dwindled from its original size — some due to deaths, but a lot with classmates moving away from the area.
However, approximately 30 were in attendance of this year’s reunion held at Lee’s Banquet Haus, most of which are Hocking County residents. As with any class reunion, those in attendance held a meeting and decided against having future reunions since everyone seems to be getting up there in years (although most seem to have more energy than a 20-year-old).
During the meeting, the class decided to do something worthwhile with the remainder of the money in the class bank account — something that would set their class apart from all others — something that the Class of 1954 would be remembered for in years to come.
Brainstorming, the classmates decided they wanted to restore the gates that have adorned the east and west side of Logan since 1939 when they were first constructed.
Although this is a class project, Bette Kitchen, a member of the Class of ’54, is spearheading this endeavor along with the help of her classmates, especially the group of 18 women who have stayed true friends and have lunch together once a month during the summertime.
With this in mind, Kitchen recently approached Logan City Mayor Greg Fraunfelter and City Service Director Bruce Walker regarding the project and was given the green light to proceed with the endeavor.
“For me, it is nice to see senior citizens stepping up and out to do something to preserve the history of Logan,” the Mayor said. “Leading by doing sets a great example for the younger hearts.”
Kitchen attended the Logan City Council meeting Tuesday night and presented highlights of the project, which received great responses from council members. The excitement regarding the project rose to greater heights when Bill Rinehart from Century National Bank presented a $5,000 check to Kitchen and Norma Geiger to help kick off the project.
While the project could possibly cost approximately four times that amount, Kitchen and her classmates are out beating the pavement trying to get more donations to make this project a reality.
Donations of any amount can be made through Century National Bank or the Hocking Hills Chamber of Commerce and should be earmarked for the Logan City Gate Fund. Kitchen noted the donations are tax-deductible and is encouraging all Logan High School classes, businesses and individuals to donate to the fund for the restoration of the gates.
The gates have been a staple of the community for 80 years boasting the logo — Logan, Gateway to Ohio’s Scenic Wonderland. According to Kitchen, that same logo will be on the new gates as well. In addition, the same original hardware will be used when restoring the gates.
According to Logan historian Judy Maniskas, the Hocking Parks Committee of the Logan Chamber of Commerce, now known as the Hocking Hills Chamber of Commerce, commissioned the gates.
Maniskas, of the Hocking County Historical Society and Museum, said the gates were built back in 1939.
Ferd Hack, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce in 1939, reached out to James D. Wells to oversee the project. Wells worked in public relations for the Ohio Division of Forestry at the time, and also designed the Christmas lights that illuminate Logan to this day.
The gates were built on each end of the city limits, and though Logan has since sprawled well beyond its borders, the gates have remained tall and proud.
While this project is just in the planning stages, Fraunfelter told The Logan Daily News, those involved are considering composite lumber and/or vinyl in place of the wooden slats that the current gates are made from. The goal is to also have solar powered LED lighting that will point to the ground and reflect on the gates.
As far as how long the project will take — that depends on donations and the weather, but everyone is hoping to have both gates completed prior to the onset of winter.
“We really want these gates to be done very, very well,” Kitchen stated. “They haven’t been done in 10 years. They’ve been worked on but not replaced — that’s what we hope we can do with them.”
According to Kitchen, back in the day when the work program, Works Progress Administration (WPA) was in Hocking County, those working in the program maintained the gates.
“Now it’s hard for us to keep up with the infrastructure and cosmetics of the City,” she added. “It doesn’t hurt for people to take part and help do these things.”
So now the challenge is on — Kitchen and the Class of ’54 challenge all businesses, other graduating classes, individuals, etc. to donate to the cause. Donations are tax-deductible and should be sent to the Logan City Gate Fund, at Century National Bank or the Hocking Hills Chamber of Commerce.