Fountain construction continues
Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 21:02
Though it is currently being hidden from view, the fountain in Borchuck Plaza is still moving along on schedule.
The fountain, which is now on pace to be completed March 25, will honor the first African-American students to attend East Tennessee State University.
“We heard some of these former students speak at a forum during the centennial celebration,” said Joe Smith, interim executive assistant to the president for university relations. “That’s when we had the idea to have a permanent fixture on campus to honor and memorialize these students.”
In January 1956, Eugene Caruthers arrived on campus as the very first African-American to attend what was then East Tennessee State College. In the next few years, Elizabeth Watkins Crawford, Mary Luellen Owens Wagner, Clarence McKinney, and George L Nichols followed him. Together they desegregated ETSU’s undergraduate program.
“The new fountain will permanently memorialize and honor those five educational heroes,” said Smith.
Borchuck Plaza will also be home to a new historical marker in the community. The new sign on the edge of the area will recount the story of the desegregation and serve as an additional point of memorializing the students.
Although Caruthers and McKinney have since died, the other three students will attend the dedication ceremony. The ceremony will take place March 25, regardless of whether the fountain is completed by then.
According to Bill Rasnick, chief facilities officer for the project, the tent now covering the desegregation memorial is necessary to keep the construction continuing during the winter.
“We’re kind of doing this in a cold weather situation,” Rasnick said. “So even though the concrete is set up, the paint for the fountain has to be kept at a certain temperature.”
Keeping the paint at the temperature it needs to be is crucial to the project. If the coating around the fountain is not kept above 70 degrees and at a certain humidity level, the coverage will crack and the fountain will leak once it is finished.