Resilience remembered

Steve Stein GateHouse Media Illinois
Missouri sculptor Charles Strain’s sculpture after it was installed at the Washington Pride Plaza at Five Points Washington on Sept. 16. The piece was dedicated at the plaza Sept. 17.

The Washington Pride Plaza and Community Spirit sculpture at Five Points Washington that were dedicated Thursday pay tribute to the city’s recovery from the November 2013 tornado.

They also are a reminder that even though there is much to be thankful for and many to thank in Washington, three lives were lost because of the EF-4 twister.

One of the bluestone commemorative bricks on the ground closest to the base of the 10-foot bronze sculpture contains the names of Rosamund (Munda) Allison, Charles Koonce and Steve Neubauer, who died because of injuries they suffered.

The brick was purchased by the Five Points board.

Five Points board member and plaza project chairman Scott Ehrsam began the dedication ceremony with a moment of silence “for all that was lost” in the tornado, including the more than 1,100 homes that were destroyed or damaged.

Charles Strain, the Missouri sculptor who created the sculpture, attended the ceremony along with Washington residents John and Sharon Amdall, tornado survivors who commissioned the work.

The sculpture is the centerpiece of the plaza, which has seating and a wall with commemorative bricks.

The plaza and sculpture add a new dimension to the formerly pedestrian south end of Five Points, which is used mainly as an entrance to the banquet rooms and Caterpillar Performing Arts Center in the multipurpose facility.

“We’re beyond pleased how this turned out,” John Amdall said during the ceremony. “The plaza and sculpture soften the south end of the building and hopefully will draw people here.”

On the three-sided base of the sculpture are a listing of Strain and the Amdalls as the sculptor and donors, a note saying the sculpture is dedicated “... to all those whose strength and courage rebuilt Washington after the tornado of November 17, 2013” and a quote from George Washington: “Perseverance and spirit have done wonders in all ages.”

Rebuilding and the community’s response to the tornado were major themes of the ceremony.

“If you’re going to get hit by a natural disaster, Washington is the place you want to be,” Sharon Amdall said, making sure everyone — specifically Mayor Gary Manier — in the crowd of about 150 knew she was joking.

Manier called the plaza and sculpture a reminder of the lives lost “and what we did the minute after the tornado hit. Our resilience is second to none.”

Construction on the plaza, built entirely by donations, began in early July.

The Five Points board is continuing to raise money to enhance the south entrance to the facility.

A ticket booth for the theater is planned.