Braving a summer shower July 12, townspeople and visitors here listened to an apostle dedicate their new Pioneer Park with its focal point, the "Arrival Edition" of Bill Hill's sculpture, "The Family, an Everlasting Heritage."
Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve, with his wife, Barbara, earlier in the day visited the gravesite of Capt. James G. Willie of the ill-fated Willie handcart company. The grave is in a cemetery just east of the new park. The Ballards, along with Gordon Romney, executive director of the Pioneer Sesquicentennial Committee, and his wife, Victoria, met there with three generations of Willie descendants."I think Capt. James G. Willie, smiling from above, probably wanted a little rain so it will be just a little miserable in order to appreciate the great quest of the handcart companies and the early pioneers," Elder Ballard commented prior to the dedicatory prayer.
Sharing stories from his own pioneer ancestral roots in Cache Valley, he said those roots have "had an impact in our family for generations of time."
The idea for the three-acre park was conceived by Justin and Doris Anderson of the Mendon 3rd Ward, who spearheaded the collection of funds to construct it as a memorial to the town's pioneer settlers.
The sculpture is mounted on a concrete base, surrounded by native plants, a retaining wall and a walkway.
Regarding the design for the sculpture, Brother Hill, a member of the Mendon 2nd Ward, said it came to him by inspiration while reflecting on what the original pioneers would want. He sees it as symbolizing the hearts of the children turning to their fathers and mothers.
In a conversation after the dedication, the artist said that 10 years ago he grew weary of "painting walls in rich people's homes" and became involved in more spiritual endeavors as a way to magnify his talents by using them to glorify God. An early project was the "Witness Series" at the Logan LDS Institute, a series of paintings of people who knew Christ in mortality. That led to other projects, such as a painting in the Kanesville Tabernacle that will depict the eight members of the Quorum of the Twelve who were present on the day Brigham Young was sustained as the second president of the Church.