Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park announced this week that they would replace 12 outdated entrance signs and build a new primary entrance sign designed for group photographs.
The National Park Service will be providing $24,500 to the military park through the Centennial Challenge Program, a news release said.
The money will be met with $49,200 from Friends of the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, a necessary match to be eligible for the Centennial Challenge money, said Patrice Glass, Friends of the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park executive director.
Glass said that the Park Service required parks applying for Centennial Challenge funds to have a 2-1 match on hand at the time of the application.
“For every dollar the Park Service put in, the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park had to have two dollars already in,” Glass said.
She said that while the Friends of the Park usually raise capital through grants and fundraisers, the $49,200 match was different. It was estate money left by the late Shawn Johns, a former volunteer at the military park.
“Shawn was a longtime volunteer and living historian, and when he passed, part of his estate went to the Friends of the Park to be used within the park,” Glass said. “Because of his generosity, we were able to put the money aside in a special fund, the Johns Centennial Fund. We’re using that to fund the Centennial Challenge project. All the money was funded by him.”
Glass said that putting these funds toward welcoming signs would dutifully honor the man who, for years, welcomed so many to the military park.
“The iconic parks, like Yosemite or the Grand Canyon, have places right as you’re going in-something worthy of a family or group photograph to get you excited,” Glass said. “This is something our park has been needing to do as well, and since Mr. Johns welcomed visitors to the parks to learn more, we felt like [this] was an appropriate way to use his gift.”
Funding awarded by the Park Service is part of a national initiative to improve visitor services, reach new audiences and renew interest in national parks for the Park Service’s 100-year anniversary, a news release said.
The $24,500 given to the military park was a slice of the Park Service’s $15 million Centennial Challenge Program, the news release said. Money from this fund will go toward 69 projects in 63 parks nationwide.