HAMLET — The mystery of the whereabouts of John Shortridge Park appears to have been solved, thanks to collaborative knowledge from city council members and help from North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin, and a confirmation of Goodwin’s recollections from then-Assistant City Manager Marchell Adams-David.
In a Facebook message Friday night, Goodwin said he’d consulted Adams-David about his hunch that the plaque’s origins are tied to the city’s 1997 Centennial.
“Yes, the Shortridge Park is located at City Lake,” she confirmed.
Councilman Eddie Martin had earlier said he knew the park was in the vicinity of City Lake.
“The plaque does date back to the ceremony (Goodwin) mentioned at the lake,” Adams-David said. “There was a ceremonial planting of a tree by John Shortridge marking the city’s founding. The program was part of the centennial recognitions.”
Adams-David told Goodwin that when the Hamlet city tree committee was active, they’d planted palm trees “in the area acknowledging Shortridge.”
City Manager Marcus Abernethy said the additional information was also confirmed by other sources.
“I think that this information is substantial and it sufficiently answers the inquiry as to where the park plaque was supposed to be located,” he wrote in an email to the Daily Journal. “I have heard a lot of this information from Mrs. Abbie Covington, the former Mayor of Hamlet. She said that the Shortridge Park was located at the City Lake in the general area between the Hamlet Senior Center and the VFW.”
Abernethy said he also received a call from former Hamlet resident Burnell McGirt, who said that the park was located at City Lake.
“And of course, it was the consensus of the council at the special meeting on Aug. 9 that Shortridge Park was located at the City Lake right after Councilman Martin explained that the Shortridge Park was located down at the City Lake,” Abernethy added.
The ultimate goal, he said, is to get the plaque to its intended home.
“I will be working in the future with staff to determine how to have the plaque placed and will also seek the input from the Hamlet City Council,” Abernethy said. “Hamlet has such a rich history, and I am excited about this opportunity to further preserve that history.”
Reach reporter Melonie McLaurin at 910-817-2673 and follow her on Twitter @meloniemclaurin.