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Archive for Saturday, October 2, 2004

Statue fetes New Deal workers

Bronze piece pays tribute to 38,000 from Depression era

October 2, 2004

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— The workers who built dams and lakes throughout the state as part of one of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal programs will be honored this weekend with the dedication of a bronze statue.

The statue depicts a 6-foot tall Civilian Conservation Corps worker. It is located at Marion County Park and Lake, a Conservation Corps project.

The Conservation Corps was a New Deal program established to put people to work after the economy crashed.

Two years ago, Marion County Lake was listed on the National Register of Historic Places because of its unique history. The lake built as the result of the Depression-era jobs program, and the approximately 250 workers who constructed it were black veterans of the Spanish-American War and World War I.

"The town of Marion only had eight African-Americans living there before these men arrived," said Helen Beckham, who along with her husband, Dwight, led the effort to raise more than $20,000 for the bronze statue. "Their presence impacted the community. Townspeople got wealthy with the supplies needed by the camp."

Besides honoring the men who built the Marion County Lake, the statue recognizes all 38,000 Conservation Corps workers who labored in Kansas.

The dedication is scheduled for 2 p.m. today at Marion County Park and Lake.

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