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Construction starts on new park

Friends of the late Sallie Kirkpatrick said she was “surely smiling down from Heaven” Wednesday as city officials and family members held the groundbreaking ceremony for the park set to be constructed in her memory.

C.L. Kirkpatrick, husband to the late Mrs. Kirkpatrick, donated the seven acres for the new Kirkpatrick Park in memory of his wife who lost her life in a house fire during Hurricane Ivan in 2005. Mrs. Kirkpatrick was an avid gardener and great lover of flowers and the outdoors. Additionally, the family has agreed to provide $50,000 in matching funds for a Federal Land and Water Conservation Grant.

Mayor Earl Johnson described the day as “historic” for the community.

“Mr. Kirkpatrick and his family has greatly increased the quality of life of our community (with their donation),” Johnson said. “When I first came back to Andalusia, everyone said, ‘Mr. Kirkpatrick — he’s a good businessman.’

“I say Mr. Kirkpatrick is an even better citizen,” he said. “And this project proves it.”

Amos Kirkpatrick said the project is a fitting tribute to his mother’s memory.

“Our family agreed there was no better way to memorialize her life than this project,” he said. “And we hope to have the project finished sometime between my father’s birthday — March 13 — or my mother’s on May 8, so it will be a great day to see the finished pavilion and memorial garden.”

The day’s groundbreaking ceremony marked the start of the first phase of the project, which will include a 50-by-80-foot pavilion with restrooms and a stone fireplace with grills, as well as a memorial garden.

In the second phase of the project, a playground area and possibly some walking paths will be added.