Several Anderson County Commissioners recently gathered at the International Friendship Bell in Oak Ridge to present a $10,000 check for the new Peace Pavilion that will become the Bell’s new home in Bissell Park.
The Commission voted unanimously earlier this year to allocate $10,000 to help replace the pavilion housing the Bell after structural beams in the original pavilion deteriorated and the structure had to be demolished in 2014.
“We have to preserve the Bell,” said County Commission Chair Steve Emert. “It is important for tourism, for history, and especially for its message of friendship.”
“The Bell will be a key part of the story that the Manhattan Project National Historical Park is going to tell. This benefits the whole county, not just Oak Ridge,” added County Commissioner Myron Iwanski.
The Bell and Peace Pavilion are expected to have a major role in the National Park. National Park Service officials expect the park to attract more than 70,000 visitors a year, and the Bell will be a visible symbol of the peaceful relationship that developed between the United States and Japan after World War II.
More than $600,000 has been contributed for the Peace Pavilion and surrounding gardens, with a goal of $750,000. Pat Postma, co-chair of the International Friendship Bell Citizens Advisory Committee that is heading the fund drive, and Shigeko Uppuluri, a committee member who with her late husband Ram first proposed the Bell for Oak Ridge, accepted the county contribution to the Bell fund.
Architect Ziad Demian has created a striking cantilever design for the new Peace Pavilion, with an open and enlarged plaza that magnifies the presence of the International Friendship Bell.
“The Bell is going to be located in a position of more prominence,” County Commissioner Steve Mead said. Its new location within Bissell Park, down the hill from its original site, will provide a tranquil and inviting spot for visitors and residents, he said.
County Commissioner Jerry Creasey said the Bell has been the site of happy occasions. He has conducted weddings at the Bell, created for Oak Ridge’s 50th birthday and erected in 1996.
“The Bell is an enhancement for the city. I’m looking forward to hearing the Bell again at my house,” said County Commissioner Theresa Scott, whose home is not far from the Bell site.
County Commissioner Whitey Hitchcock said the Bell contribution made by Anderson County represents the two ends of the county working together at a local level. “The Bell represents the same thing on a global level,” Hitchcock observed.
Contributions may be made by check to the Oak Ridge Rotary Community Foundation, with “For Bell Project” on the check’s memo line, and sent to: International Friendship Bell, C/O David Carr, Oak Ridge Rotary Community Fund, P.O. Box 6331, Oak Ridge, TN 37831-6331.
To see the eight different donor levels for supporting the Bell, go to http://friendshipbell.com and click on “Donate.”
More information will be added as it becomes available.
See previous stories on the Friendship Bell here.
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