By Kevin Kelley
Mike Dean grew up in Westlake, graduating from Westlake High School in 1985. Although he now lives in Florida, he was visiting his hometown last week and attended the dedication ceremony for the Founders Walk at Clague Park Saturday.
Dean was one of dozens of Westlake residents and friends of the community who rang an old fire truck bell in celebration of the community’s 200th birthday.
In fact, Dean, whose relatives own Dean’s Greenhouse, had specific instructions to participate in the bell ringing from his mother, Beverly Dean, who graduated from Westlake High School in 1965.
Even though she now also lives in Florida, Beverly Dean received word of the Founders Walk dedication and bell ringing.
“She keeps in touch with everybody still,” Mike Dean said.
Beverly Dean was one of about 300 people who bought an engraved brick to be placed in the Founders Walk, which consists of bricks salvaged from the old red brick schoolhouse that once stood on Dover Center Road. Dean, in fact, purchased two bricks, her son reported.
Another purchaser of an engraved brick was Karen Ormsby, who attended Saturday’s dedication ceremony. She found her brick, which reads, “The Ormsby Family,” in the Founders Walk near the Clague Road sidewalk.
“We lived here for over 40 years,” Ormsby said, adding that she believed buying an engraved brick was the proper thing to do.
Ormsby also said she’s glad that some part of the old red brick schoolhouse, which was demolished in November after standing for 101 years, will remain in the community.
During the dedication ceremony, Mayor Dennis Clough said the Founders Walk was a great idea to honor the settlers who helped plan Westlake and set the groundwork for the community it has become today.
“We know that the founders are definitely looking down on us today because we they made sure we had great weather here in the city of Westlake,” the mayor said, alluding to the near constant rain seen in recent days.
“I’m very proud to be part of this great community,” the mayor said.
Bob Parry, the city’s planning and economic development director and chairman of the Westlake Bicentennial Committee, told of how the project developed. Assistant Planning Director Will Krause spoke about Westlake’s founding families, 24 of whom are honored with special stones embedded in the Founders Walk.
Following the dedication, several dozen residents rang an old fire truck bell now owned by the Westlake Historical Society.
Bill Robishaw, the former principal of Holly Lane and Bassett elementary schools and expert on Westlake history, got things rolling by sounding the bell for the year 1812. Relatives of Leverett Johnson, considered Westlake’s first settler, rang the bell for 1811 while visiting the city a few months ago, Westlake Historical Society President Lysa Stanton said.
Westlakers and those with ties to the community had the opportunity to ring the bell for a particular year of Westlake’s history that has some sentimental value to them.
The old fire truck bell was also rung by residents on July 4, 1976, in celebration of the nation’s bicentennial.