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Bridge dedication celebrates completion of Jay project

JAY Ten years ago, the idea of any celebration in regards to the covered bridge in Jay would have seemed absurd, but things have changed. On Oct. 14, more than 200 people attended a three-way dedication ceremony for the Essex County Emergency Services Volunteer Memorial Bridge, Covered Bridge and Douglas Memorial Park. Im happy with the number of people who turned up. Everyone wanted some closure, and this was time for our community to heal and move onto new adventures, said Jay supervisor Randy Douglas, who served as the ceremonys emcee. For Douglas, the day carried special meaning, since Douglas Memorial Park was dedicated in memory of his grandfather, Arthur J. Douglas, and his father, Thomas A. Douglas, both past Jay town supervisors who died while in office. Town historian Sharon Hewston addressed the historical nature of the wooden covered bridge, which is the centerpiece of the new park. Built in 1857, it is the oldest covered bridge in New York State. The structure has been converted into a pedestrian and cycling path. Hewston also shared memories of the late supervisors, whom she worked with, expressing her gratitude for the parks dedication. I thank you for this day and this memorial, and I hope God brings good things here, said Hewston. Raymond Thatcher, Director of Essex County Emergency Services, spoke on behalf of rescue personnel, in whose honor the new bridge structure was named. He called the new bridge a lasting symbol of recognition for emergency responders. Superintendent of the Essex County Department of Public Work Fred Buck expressed his happiness and relief that the project was finally finished. The project spanned a 22-year period, during which controversy divided the community over where the new structure was to be placed. Jay resident Mary Barrie was one of those involved in the debate over the location. She pronounced the final product a good compromise, explaining the new bridge blended well into the landscape. She added that shes already taken to enjoying strolls through the new park. For all the controversy all those years, it turned out very well, said Barrie. Jay native Anne Sherman agreed. I think under the circumstances it was the best thing, said Sherman. You look at the bridge and in a few years, youll wonder what all the controversy was about. Its done, and thank God.

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