Wanda English Burnett
and ribbon cutting ceremony for the Versailles State Park office
that also houses the Indiana Conservation Officer District 9
headquarters was held Friday, May 21 with over 150 people in
attendance. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) statue was
also dedicated as part of the ceremony.
Dan Bortner, Division of State Parks and Reservoirs director,
welcomed those attending the event on Friday by saying, Today
we honor you on behalf of a grateful State.
He then introduced Norris Krall of the Ripley County Historical
Society, who gave a brief history of the CCC and their importance
to history. He noted that the labor of the young men of the
generation of the Great Depression Era built barracks, a mess
hall, administration and recreation building at what is now
the Versailles State Park, the second largest in the State of
Indiana. Also stone shelters and walls were erected with local
stone that still stands today.
Krall said because of the vision of the late Ruth Ann Swinney,
who began the work on the CCC statue at Versailles before her
death, it stands today at the entrance of the park, a permanent
reminder of what hard work and dedication can accomplish. The
motto inscribed on a plaque on the statue says, We Can
Take It. He told those gathered, We should never
forget the many young men who labored here.
Some of the CCC workers were in attendance at the dedication
ceremony and attested to the fact they did take it.
It shaped my life for what was to come, noted Arlis
Sizemore, 87 of Logansport, who attended the ceremony.
Sizemore told The Versailles Republican after working
as a CCC boy, he was enlisted in the military in 1943 where
he would eventually fight on the front lines in World War II.
He received numerous medals including the prestigious Legion
of Honor medal. He was among six who were named Knights of the
Legion of Honor at the Indiana War Memorial in 2007. This outstanding
distinction is the highest honor bestowed for remarkable deeds
Paul Hayes, another CCC veteran, spoke, saying, The veterans
appreciate the recognition even after these long years.
He said he learned to work hard, learned a trade, and would
sign up right now if the CCC was back in operation
Robert E. Carter, Jr. Department of Natural Resources director,
addressed the crowd saying it made sense logistically to put
the office at the entrance of the park. He also noted that he
was sure his good friend Sheriff Tom Grills (who attended the
ceremony) appreciated having another law enforcement agency
in the area, such as the Indiana Conservation Officers headquarters.
The ICO Honor Guard participated in the ceremony with the clear
notes of the National Anthem sung by ICO Andy Cline.
The unveiling of the CCC statue was an important part of the
day as many locals gathered to see the fruit of the labor of
many, but in particular the late Ruth Ann Swinney, who spearheaded
the project. The statue was made possible through grants provided
by the Rising Sun Regional Foundation and The Ripley County
Community Foundation. The Ripley County Historical Society played
a major role in helping with the project that now boasts a 6-foot
statue that weighs 460 pounds. Swinneys daughter, Lisa
Ebinger, carried on with the project after her mothers
As the black veil was lifted from the CCC statue, veterans of
that era clapped and then stood silently reflecting on what
the statue is a symbol of and what the CCC boys have meant to
our great nation.
Following the unveiling of the statue, refreshments were provided
by the Versailles Super Market and served in the new park office
with the ICO offices open to the public. CCC memorabilia was
provided including the famous ax of which Sizemore told The
Versailles Republican, We actually used them!
A ribbon cutting ceremony was then held at the entrance to the
new park office and ICO headquarters with great-grandchildren
of the late Ruth Ann Swinney participating, as well as many
others, including dignitaries on the state and local levels.
The office was built at the entrance of the park for better
visibility and convenience for those coming to the facility.
The previous office, which was built in 1935 and served as cooks
quarters for the CCC camp, was small and tucked away within
the park. Also it was not ADA accessible.
The 3,000 square-foot building houses not only the park office,
but serves a dual purpose providing a central location for the
District 9 conservation officers. Their previous office was
small and in an old house at Brookville.
The limestone on the new building matches stonework on buildings
already in the park. It was quarried in Napoleon, according
to information from the Department of Natural Resources.
Michell Timperman of Ritz, New Albany, was the designer for
the new facility. The consulting engineer was Galbreath &
Associates, Inc., Floyd Knobs, with the consulting civil engineer
being Howard J. Barth & Associates Inc. of Greensburg. The
contractor was Poole Group, Inc. from Milan. The cost of the
building, which was secured a few years back, was $859,893.
You are welcome to visit the Versailles State Park and see the
new facilities first hand. The park has nearly 6,000 acres to
offer, which never seems crowded, even with the average 350,000
people who annually make their way to the park.