2015-08-27 / Front Page

Series Of Commemorative Coins Focus Of Bicentennial Committee Discussion

by Michael Stanley
Staff Writer

Celebrating our state’s 200 years of history in 2016 and the role Owen County has played since its establishment in 1819 was at the center of Tuesday night’s meeting of the local Bicentennial Steering Committee.

A relatively unaddressed project gained additional steam during the committee’s meeting at the Freedom Community Center, where the evening’s discussion focused on a series of commemorative coins to mark the event.

Steering committee member Tamara Bingham said she has discussed the idea with local teen Israel Hogan regarding the design of the coins. Her initial thought was for three coins; a copper or brass, a gold or bronze, and an aluminum or silver. Each would have the Owen County Bicentennial celebration logo on the ‘tails’ side of the coin. The idea was for each coin to have a different ‘heads’ sides. One would feature E.M. Viquesney’s best selling Imp- O-Luck, while another would feature the Owen County seal. The third was up for debate.

Viquesney’s Imp-O-Luck consisted of a Leprechaun-like figure surrounded by horseshoes and four-leaf clovers. It came in a variety of forms, from keychain charms to statuettes, tie pins, incense burners, lamps, and an expandable ring.

Bingham said she has asked friends and family who reside outside of the county what the first thing that comes to their mind is when they think of Spencer and Owen County. More often than not, their answer would be the large chicken located at the Owen County Fairgrounds.

The committee discussion resulted in suggestions of more than three coins, one each depicting an image of importance for each of Owen County’s communities — Spencer, Gosport, Freedom, Coal City, Patricksburg, Cunot, Cataract, and Quincy. Bingham said she would be in contact with Spencer sculptor Mark Parmenter of White River Foundry about possibly providing molds for the coins.

Owen County Historian Tony Neff mentioned an Indiana Centennial coin and commemorative book in 1916, which led to an additional project. Committee coordinator Mark Rogers said he would be in touch with the Spencer Evening World and World Arts, Inc. to inquire about compiling a similar commemorative book. The book would possibly include a sleeve on the inside back cover for each of the collectable coins. No cost estimates are known at this time. The coins would likely be released at different points throughout the year, in the order that each location was established.

Bingham also said she has been actively submitting projects to the Indiana Bicentennial Committee for approval.

She is actively working to organize a “Sweet” Owen County Bicentennial Pageant to be performed at the McCormick’s Creek State Park amphitheater in June and at the Tivoli Theatre in Spencer, likely around September. Bingham said she would reach out to the writers’ group at the Owen County Art Guild for assistance in finishing the draft for the pageant.

Neff also updated the committee on historical celebration related items, including the Owen County historical flatboat experience.

“The wood is all cut, it’s been designed by John Schrock, and the Fenders (Lewis and Steve) are going to be building it. They’re waiting for the wood to dry, but they’re going to be working on it shortly,” he said.

The replica will be small enough to haul on a flatbed trailer for easy transportation; however, the possibility of providing rides to the public on White River will depend on weather conditions, including river level and more.

Owen County Chamber of Commerce & Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Gwen Tucker provided an update on community involvement, noting she would contact Owen County GIS Coordinator Mike Priddy regarding a geocaching Discover Owen County scavenger hunt, to feature 13 unique sites.

Marilyn Jackson of the Sweet Owen County Convention & Visitors Bureau issued a reminder that nominations are needed for at least 20 runners and walkers to participate in the state’s bicentennial torch relay, scheduled to pass through Owen County on Wednesday, September 21, 2016. The torch’s journey through Owen County is anticipated to take one hour and 30 minutes.

She said a request submitted to the State for a replica of the torch has yet to be answered. The committee agreed to explore options for a replica from another source if necessary.

Youth & Education pillar chairman Brock Beeman with Spencer- Owen Community Schools provided an update on the online accessible education module focusing on Owen County.

“The part that’s been the most exciting is watching the kids get excited about Owen County, about the history. They’re getting geared up a little bit,” he said. “The time line of when some these things are going to happen will be key, so we can tie things in with our school year.”

Among the items included will be key moments and milestones in Owen County history from 1819 through 2000, key changes to agriculture, business and industry, government, transportation, infrastructure and military. An interactive online map will also be created with the locations of Owen County’s 90 to 100 one-room school houses in 1900. A fourth grade essay contest will also focus on Owen County.

“There are several projects the classes are working on that are kind of off-shoots of some of these things, that aren’t official projects, but I think will help fill in a lot of the activities and excitement of the bicentennial,” Beeman added.

The committee also spoke with Linda Gentry about expanding the annual Freedom Day set for the last Sunday in September in 2016. She said she would discuss the project with the Freedom Community Center Board.

The next meeting of the Owen County Bicentennial Steering Committee will be held on Thursday, November 12, beginning at 4:30 p.m. in the Commissioners Room, located on the second floor of the Owen County Courthouse in Spencer.

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