History Happens Here: Parks and Rec around monuments

(File photo)

(Photo by Arianna Grainey, Independent Newspapers)

History oftentimes is forgotten as time passes. This weekly series will feature old photographs from the Apache Junction/Gold Canyon Independent’s archives, held up in the exact place that they were originally taken, in the style of Dear Photograph.

This week’s image ran in the March 27 -April 4, 1996, edition on page B-2.

The original caption reads: “A.J. Parks and Rec Dept.: Jeff Bell, Chuck Baker, Nick Blake, Mary March, Greg Hanley, Beth Cowles, Janie Thompson, Keith Tester, Keven Maertens, Dennis Stevens, Larry Chappell, Rick Harner, Kevin England and Jim Wall.”

The photo accompanied an article announcing that Apache Junction Parks and Recreation was named the best in the state. The staff gathered around one of the city’s entry monuments

It was taken sometime in 1994, Parks and Recreation Director Liz Langenbach said, according to the picture in the department’s archive.

The article said the program had one employee in 1980 and a budget of $75,000. In 1996, it had 14 employees and a budget of $1.1 million.

The department now has 33 full-time, 25 part-time and 45 summer-seasonal employees, according to Ms. Langenbach. The budget now is just over $4 million, she said.

The sign staff members are gathered around are is located at State Route 88 and Hackamore Drive.

“This sign is one of the three monuments,” Ms. Langenbach said. “(The other two are at) Old West Highway, just west of Goldfield and Apache Trail, just east of Meridian.

“I think, it was part of a thing to help people identify that they weren’t in Mesa anymore,” Nick Blake, landscape artist said. “There weren’t really any signs indicating where the city started.”

Mr. Blake said the monuments were one of his first projects with the city.

“We wanted it to be noticeable, and something that really caught peoples’ eye,” Mr. Blake. “Hence more of the monument size. It kind of made a statement that ‘you’re here now and this is a unique community.’”

The monuments were originally designed in 1993, Mr. Blake said.

“Even today it’s a unique sign. You don’t see a lot of monuments like this,” he said.

Want to help with this project? If you have any old photographs that would be interesting to recreate in this way, e-mail them to agrainey@newszap.com for consideration. Include any information that you have about the photo subject and content. Are you on Instagram? Follow this project on Instagram @history_happens_here_az.

Arianna Grainey is a freelance photojournalist.

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