I’d like to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks to a few friends for their vision, leadership and contributions to our community—Mel & Brooke Ashland, Rob Buerk, Steve Casaleggio and Donna Briggs.
In the early morning hours of June 14, the “tea kettle” locomotive chugged home to Jacksonville and is now on permanent display on tracks where it ran from 1891-1925. Please read more about this 10-ton piece of history in my article on page 5. Thanks to Mel and Brooke Ashland, who are unquestionably the town’s leading historic preservationists, this magnificent piece of history is home where it belongs. Bringing the locomotive home required vision and leadership, and above all, love for Jacksonville.
On that same day, June 14, I also had the pleasure of attending the grand opening celebration of Britt Festivals’ new Performance Garden—more on that in a moment. That evening, as Jo and I walked up to the pavilion, we entered from the Lower Britt Gardens…which are now fully-restored to their original glory. Two leading members of the Boosters Club, Rob Buerk and Steve Casaleggio, have guided the garden restoration project for three years. Now complete, Peter Britt’s gardens boast new pathways, plantings and lighting—they are something to be proud of and something for which Rob and Steve deserve Jacksonville’s utmost appreciation.
I’d need a full page to properly thank Britt Festivals’ CEO Donna Briggs for all she’s done to breathe new life into Britt Hill. Today, the venue is truly world-class, thanks to a $1.5 million facelift she oversaw. The year-long-plus project included the addition of a new grand entry, ADA pathways, performance garden, concession stands, bathrooms, lighting, bus & volunteer parking lots…the list goes on. The results are stunning!
Thanks Mel, Brooke, Rob, Steve and Donna for all you have done for Our Small Town with Big Atmosphere!