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By Paul Seeling
Editor & Publisher, MGN
9/25/2012 1:37:00 PM
Dedication of fishing pier is lasting tribute to Doug Blegen (Part I) Note: Doug graduated from SVHS in 1964
The Doug Blegen Memorial Handicapped Accessible Fishing Pier was dedicated on Saturday, September 15, 2012. Photo by Paul J. Seeling
SPRING VALLEY, WI - On Saturday, September 15, 2012 on a gorgeous afternoon during the Dam Days celebration in Spring Valley, a celebration took place on the banks of Lake George to dedicate and unveil the memorial plaque for the Doug Blegen Memorial Handicapped Accessible Fishing Pier in a fitting and lasting tribute to Doug Blegen.
Doug Blegen was a hometown boy who loved his community, loved the Eau Galle River that he grew up on and loved working on building the dam that would protect his community from future disastrous floods. He also loved working at the Eau Galle Recreation Area, created from the construction of the dam.
Once beautiful Lake George became a reality, Doug had a vision of having a fishing pier that would be accessible to all who wanted to come and dip a line, including those that might have a handicap.
Blegen pursued that dream with his employer, the Corp of Engineers, the creators and managers of this incredible natural resource that was created in our back yard.
Budgeted funds for a project like that did not exist for the Corp. Many might have let the vision die, but not Doug Blegen. He was the middle son of five rambunctious "Blegen Boys," and maybe he learned at an early age how to get things accomplished.
He approached the Spring Valley Lions Club over ten years ago and acquired about forming a partnership with the Corp and Lions Club. They agreed that the project was a natural fit with the Lions' mission "To Serve" and in particular to serve their local community and those who may have special needs.
Thus the Spring Valley Lions made a commitment to help fund the building of the handicapped accessible fishing pier on Lake George in the Eau Galle Recreation Area in a public/private partnership with the Corp of Engineers. The Corp and the Lions worked together; plans were drawn up, and cost estimates were established.
With that the Lions went to work and started a new fundraiser. The Spring Valley Lions Annual Ice Fishing Derby on Lake George became a popular and successful event drawing the highest one-day visitor count to Lake George in the Eau Galle Recreation Area every year.
Part II of this article will detail the dedication tribute for the Doug Blegen Memorial Handicapped Accessible Fishing Pier.
10/2/2012 1:27:00 PM
Dedication of fishing pier is lasting tribute to Doug Blegen (Part II)
Doug Blegen's family beside the newly dedicated memorial plaque for the fishing pier. Photo by Paul J. Seeling
SPRING VALLEY, WI - On Saturday, September 15, on a gorgeous afternoon during the Dam Days celebration in Spring Valley, a celebration took place on the banks of Lake George to dedicate and unveil the memorial plaque for the Doug Blegen Memorial Handicapped Accessible Fishing Pier in a fitting and lasting tribute to Doug Blegen.
During the ceremony, Eau Galle Recreation Area, Corp of Engineers, Site Leader Kelli Phillips greeted assembled Blegen family members, Lion representatives and community members and directed them to the shaded hillside above the fishing pier where there was a cloth-veiled plaque; she then began the dedication service.
Phillips introduced herself and spoke of how pleased she was to be the newest Site Leader at the Recreation Area. She also stated how honored she was to be involved in this tribute to the memory of Doug Blegen. She continues to hear many great stories and comments about Doug.
"This seems to be a family reunion of sorts for the Blegen Family, and we are delighted to have you all here today," said a gracious Phillips. She then turned to two of Doug's three children; Brian and Laura, and they unveiled the memorial plaque and read what it says. Doug's third child Andrea who represented her mom Jean and other two siblings spoke lovingly of her memories of her dad who had passed away from cancer "too soon" in April 2002.
She concluded her tender remarks by saying, "It is hard to sum up Dad's life. He said he worked with nuts and bolts and always said you could refer to him as the "Chief Nut.'"
Site Leader Phillips then introduced fellow Corp of Engineers staffer Phil Lapinski, the only remaining Corp employee who had worked with Doug Blegen during his 26 years helping to build and maintain the Eau Galle Recreation Area.
"It is an honor and a pleasure to share in Doug's legacy today," said Lapinski who went on to recount how much Doug cared and loved the Eau Galle Recreation Area.
Spring Valley Lions Club president, Jack Erickson then spoke briefly about how honored the Lions were to work on the project and the Annual Ice Fishing Derby to make Doug's dream of a handicapped fishing pier a reality.
Following Erickson was Corp of Engineers Site Supervisor Kevin Berg, who came from the Corp office in La Crescent, Minnesota for the dedication ceremony. In his remarks, Berg commented what an honor it was to see, hear and recognize Doug's work ethic and sense of community. He also said that it was a great idea to partner with the Lions Club to get this project completed.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, Phillips asked if anyone else would care to comment, and several did all in testament to Doug Blegen's extraordinary character, including his brother Dennis who said among other things, "He was always a grownup and saved my life."