So when Jacob Davis died in 2003, he left the Beaver Oktoberfest Committee $25,000.
Davis graduated from Beaver High School, The Ohio State University, Harvard University, was a judge in Pike County, prosecutor, elected to the Ohio House of Representatives, was a congressman, was a special assistant to the Secretary of the Navy and was president of the Kroger Company.
“He had met with the Oktoberfest Committee, when he visited from Cincinnati where he was living at the time, and he wanted to find out how everything worked,” said Oktoberfest Committee President Robert Sowards. “He wanted to know what we did with our money, and just all about the festival. After that he was satisfied evidently, because he started making some big donations. He wanted it to go for kids. He loved kids.”
The Oktoberfest Committee set the money aside, then decided it would be a good idea to donate the money to the park located at the end of the village of Beaver. “
They've got a lot to do. They're going to get some grants in the future. I'm pretty sure one is in the neighborhood of $53,000 next year,” he said. “There's going to be a lot of things done here. There's going to be three new ball fields. There's going to be a basketball court. There's going to be a playground, a walking track for seniors. It's going to be quite a development when we get done. So we thought there would be no better way than to donate that money to the park for the kids, and maybe name something, like the playground after Mr. Davis.”
Bruce Overly, who is a member of the park board, is the designer of the new park.
“We got the park itself donated from the school district when they abandoned the elementary school building, and obviously it was in a state of disrepair, so we're kind of at a point now of tearing things out that just aren't suitable, but we don't have any funding to replace things,” Overly said. “It's going to be a huge difference, especially if we can leverage the money for a matching grant. I feel pretty comfortable that we can double it.”
Overly said he believed the committee could turn the $25,000 into at least $50,000 and maybe more depending on the grant.
“And grants are harder to come by, although next year it looks like we're going to be coming out pretty well,” he said. “Although the park has been a diamond in the rough, it's going to get us well over the hump to make this one of the nicer parks in southern Ohio.”
Overly said all ages will utilize the park with baseball programs, soccer, a playground for children, a new basketball court for the kids of the community, and a walking track for seniors.
“What this money is going to let us do is to further develop the park so we can make a walking track and several acres of wildflowers for butterfly gardens,” he said.
Overly said no money had been allotted for the upkeep of the facility, but the committee depended on volunteer labor.
“We've got a little bit of money from the village, but honestly it's mostly volunteers,” he said. “We've got people who really believe in what we're doing.”
Overly said he had to calculate the volunteer labor for the purpose of applying for grants, and 500 hours of volunteer labor had been recorded. He said more than 30 people had volunteered during an 18-month period.
Sowards said the Oktoberfest Committee issues two scholarships to Eastern High School seniors.
“We buy school supplies for the small kids, we have a Secret Santa, we support from 30 to 60 kids at Christmas, which is great, I think,” Sowards said. “We support the youth league sports here in the Eastern District, we buy an animal at the Pike County Fair, help needy families, we bought two sets of banners for the village, we bought flag poles for the Beaver-Union Cemetery, and if anybody is really in need we try to help them out.”
“This is a tremendous thing for the community,” said Beaver Mayor Rocky Brown. “This is the best thing to happen to Beaver.”
Overly said the committee is looking to next year for the biggest part of the work to begin on the park.