Construction of a decorative fountain to grace the courthouse square in Hillsboro was the center of discussion Wednesday at a meeting between Hillsboro Safety and Service Director Mel McKenzie and the Highland County Board of Commissioners.
McKenzie said construction will hopefully begin soon on the proposed fountain, which would be installed on the southeast corner of the courthouse square at the intersection of High Street and Main Street, where the county’s flagpole currently sits.
According to Hillsboro Mayor Drew Hastings, the idea of a fountain for the courthouse square has been discussed on and off for the past several years since Bob and Ann Bagshaw approached him about donating one to the city.
Hastings confirmed Wednesday that the Bagshaws will provide funding for the fountain.
Hastings said last year that the county previously gave the city permission to use the portion of land where the fountain is set to be built. While the courthouse and surrounding property sits within the city, it is owned by the county.
McKenzie said the city will be responsible for water, electric and maintenance, costs for which Hastings has said will be “minimal.”
According to McKenzie, the project will begin once the commissioners sign a maintenance agreement with the city.
During and after their meeting, the commissioners reviewed potential designs for the fountain and took a look at where it is set to be constructed.
Highland County Board of Commissioners President Shane Wilkin said the county will review its legislation allowing the city to use that portion of land.
The board took no action on the matter Wednesday.
As previously reported, the courthouse square has been home to two fountains over the years — one at the turn of the century, and one later in the early 1900s, according to local historian Jean Wallis — and the idea of installing a new one has floated around for the past several years.
Wallis previously told The Times-Gazette that while she’s not sure when the first fountain was built, she knows it sat at the southeast corner of the courthouse lawn in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
It was pretty large, had a simple design, and stayed relatively clean, she said. For unknown reasons, though, that fountain was removed in the early 20th century, and at some point replaced with a smaller, more ornate fountain depicting a boy standing in the middle holding a boot.
Over the years, that fountain got to be so dirty, officials decided to get rid of it, according to Wallis.
“All the old timers would sit around the benches at the courthouse and chew tobacco, and they would spit it into the fountain,” she said. “It got to be such a nuisance… It looked horrible.”
The fountain was eventually removed and sold to Myers Cooper, the 51st governor of Ohio. Myers was a Republican and a prominent Cincinnati businessman, Wallis said, and the fountain ended up on the front lawn of his home there.
Wallis said last year that when it comes to installing a new fountain, the fate of the boy with the boot speaks to the idea.
“Times have changed,” she said. “They’ll probably be throwing paper cups and other stuff in the fountain. I can’t agree with another one. They had two already, they shouldn’t have a third one… I don’t think it’s a good idea.”
In other business Wednesday, the commissioners entered executive session to discuss economic development, approved routine financial resolutions and contracts, and stood in recess until Friday morning, when the board will meet in executive session with Judge Rocky Coss to discuss personnel.
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.