It’s official: Ground broken on Discovery Park of America

It’s official: Ground broken on Discovery Park of America

Posted: Tuesday, July 1, 2008 8:46 pm
By: Glenda H. Caudle Special Features Editor

By GLENDA H. CAUDLE Special Features Editor Call it a ground breaking. Americans do. Call it a sod turning. Canadians will. Whatever is in a name, today could only be called a grand success. Ground breaking for the $100 million project known as Discovery Park of America kicked off at 10 a.m. just south of Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. on Everett Boulevard in Union City with 33 hard-hatted and shovel-bearing dignitaries from the United States and Canada lined up to do their duty. Flags celebrating the U.S., Canada, Tennessee and Discov-ery Park fluttered in the wind as master of ceremonies Jim Rippy stepped to the microphone. Rippy, longtime friend of Discovery Park of America founders Robert and Jenny Kirkland of Union City and president/chairman of the Discovery Park board of directors, set the program in motion. Guests, including visitors from Canadian consulates who were celebrating both their nation’s birthday and the work of favorite-son architect Douglas Cardinal, were recognized. Discovery Park of America board chairman Jim Rippy introduced Cardinal as the architect with “uncontrollable vision.” Words of welcome were offered by Union City Mayor Terry Hailey and Obion County Mayor Benny McGuire. Susan Whitaker, commissioner of the Department of Tourism for the State of Tennessee, was also on hand. “I was present at the meeting between Mr. Rippy and Mr. Kirkland when they made their presentation to Governor Bredesen and this is one of the most progressive ideas I have ever seen,” she said. “This will be an American jewel — not simply because of how imaginative and beautiful it is, but also because of what will be in it. “Discovery Park of America will truly be a magnet.” As the program progressed under clear blue July skies, B. Lee Mallory, Honorary Consul of Canada-Memphis, was introduced. “Today the eyes and ears of the country should be on Union City,” he said. “The spotlight should be on Tennessee and Canada’s participation. Tennessee is Canada’s eighth largest trading partner and, when I-69 is completed, Canadian visitors will surely stop here. “When Discovery Park of America is finished, it may be hard to keep farmers in the field in this part of the country; they’ll certainly want to be in that museum.” To complete the program, architect Douglas Cardinal of Ottawa, Ontario, and Robert Kirkland, representing the Robert E. and Jenny D. Kirkland Foundation which is funding a large portion of the project, added their sentiments. Both the Canadian visitors and their hosts introduced their families and expressed appreciation to those who have worked so hard locally to make this day a reality. And then it was time to let the dirt fly. As media readied their equipment and guests focused their cameras, dignitaries dug in and made it official — Discovery Park of America is no longer an exciting dream. Today, it became a thrilling reality. Special Features Editor Glenda Caudle may be contacted at glendacaudle@ucmessenger.com. Published in The Messenger 7.1.08

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