NEWELL - A park overlook, a batting cage, a new fire truck - they're the kind of improvements Robert Wells envisioned for his hometown when he decided to bequeath $200,000 to the East Liverpool-Fawcett Community Foundation in 2007.
A new round of grants recently approved by the foundation's board of directors will use Wells' bequest to fund beautification, recreation and safety projects in Newell, said Jackman S. Vodrey, foundation secretary.
The grants are as follows:
$50,000 to the Newell Volunteer Fire Department toward the purchase of a new pumper truck.
$30,000 to the Newell Community Improvement Coalition toward the construction of an overlook at Laurel Hollow Park.
$10,000 to the Team Mojo Foundation for the installment of a batting cage at Clarke Field.
"Oh, my gosh, that's wonderful," said Beverly Enochs, president of the Newell Community Improvement Coalition, when she heard the grant application had been approved. "That is great news."
The money will help fund the design and construction of an overlook at Laurel Hollow Park on state Route 2, Enochs said. The coalition already has approval from the West Virginia Division of Highways to proceed with the project.
The coalition also has funding from the Community Participation Grant Program of the West Virginia Senate, she said.
Enochs said the overlook will help more people, especially the elderly and those with disabilities, to enjoy Laurel Hollow Park, which has undergone a transformation in the last few years.
"I think it would make it more accessible for a lot of people," she said. "It would be nice if they could just get out of the car right there and enjoy the view."
Since 2009, the coalition has received $40,000 in Wells grant money from the foundation to make improvements to the park, which dates back to 1906. The improvements include walking and biking paths, picnic areas, lighting, landscaping, grills, an information kiosk and a restored amphitheater known as the Bears' Den, according to the coalition's grant application letter.
The coalition and Team Mojo Foundation also have used the Wells bequest to make improvements to Clarke Field across the street. The playground bears the name of George Washington Clarke, a Homer Laughlin China Co. salesman who was instrumental in developing Laurel Hollow Park.
The batting cage at Clarke Field will be coin-operated to help cover the cost of maintenance and upkeep by the Hancock County Parks and Recreation staff, according to the grant application by Bill Crawford, Team Mojo founder and executive director.
The $50,000 grant will cover about 10 percent of the cost of the new pumper truck for the Newell Volunteer Fire Department. The truck is being built by the Sutphen Corp. of Dublin, Ohio, at a cost of $450,000.
Robert Wells' $200,000 bequest, designated for Newell projects, was in addition to a $187,000 charitable remainder trust established by him and his wife, Carolyn, in 2002 for Tri-State Area projects. To date, $199,530 of the bequest has been disbursed by the East Liverpool-Fawcett Foundation, Vodrey said.
About $25,000 is left "because we've had some stock gains and income from investments," he said.
Robert Wells died in 2007 and Carolyn in 2005.