Story by Bailey Bohannan, Staff writer
The Murray Rotary Club is focusing all of its effort into its biggest building project ever to achieve the vision of a former president who is battling cancer.
Dick Weaver, retired RCA employee and management consultant, was the Rotary Club president in 1999 when the club organized donations of materials and volunteer labor to construct the six-tier seating area and concrete amphitheater in Murray-Calloway Park.
Weaver now wants to see the amphitheater with a covered pavilion.
“I am 88 years old and I have got three different types of cancer, so it is one of those things that is on my to-do list before I go,” Weaver said.
This is the Rotary’s top priority this year, said Roger Reichmuth, the Rotary Board’s campaign chairman. Together, Reichmuth and James Gallimore, the project chairman, have put all of the club’s effort toward fulfilling Weaver’s goal.
“It was [Weaver’s] dream and his idea to start this,” Gallimore said. “We have made this the Rotary’s number one project for this year is to complete this amphitheater project for the community.”
The Rotary Club has already raised $105,000 since November toward the $160,000 pavilion they plan to erect and dedicate by May 19. Gallimore said they will begin construction when they have reached $130,000.
The club planned to have started construction in January; however, due to weather and lack of funding, the construction has been delayed two months.
Once completed, the Rotary Club hopes this new building will attract more performing arts acts, such as dance performances and live music, and also provide a venue for weddings, reunions and other outdoor activities.
Although no summer events have been planned yet, Gallimore said events will begin to be scheduled after the dedication on May 19 and the July 4 Freedom Fest will be hosted there.
The new pavilion will benefit Murray by attracting new talent to the area and inspire people to get outdoors, Gallimore said.
“Different performing arts will be able to use this facility for concerts or productions,” Gallimore said. “It would be something that a Rotary Club would contribute to the community that will last for decades.”
Kelsey Mcllroy, sophomore from St. Louis, who has participated in a production at Playhouse in the Park, said she hopes to see this new building give people of Murray more to do and get more people outdoors.
“It could bring attention to everything that park has to offer, such as The Playhouse Theater and the mini water park,” Mcllroy said.
Weaver was the president of the Rotary Club when the whole project began.
Over the past 15 years, the project has been put on hold because his late wife, former professor and dean of education at Murray State, was diagnosed with dementia and Weaver was dedicated to her health.
Weaver has been distracted over the years by other projects and his own health as well.
“My wife had dementia, so I was dedicated to that,” Weaver said. “I have worked on other projects and stuff like that and the amphitheater was still being used at that stage so there was no real emphasis to do it.”
Weaver said the whole community helping out with this new pavilion for the amphitheater and donating to the fundraiser reminds him why he and his wife moved to Murray many years back.
“From my stand-point, it is another one of those things that help this continue to be the most caring community, the most giving community, in the country,” Weaver said.