Re­unit­ing and re­vi­tal­iz­ing

Por­terdale re­union held in memo­rial gym for first year since 2005 fire

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - KAYLA ROBINS krobins@cov­

His­tory was made and re­mem­bered Satur­day as old friends, neigh­bors and class­mates gath­ered in an old build­ing with no roof that glowed with the past. Some had not seen each other since the same day last year.

The 2014 An­nual Por­terdale Re­union re­turned at­ten­dees to the child­hoods they look so fondly back upon as they re­united in the Porter Memo­rial Gym­na­sium Sept. 6 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., cel­e­brat­ing the un­veil­ing of a com­mem­o­ra­tive his­toric marker and re­cently com­pleted re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion to the build­ing.

The gym burned in Oc­to­ber 2005 to be un­used un­til a group formed the col­lect funds for its re­con­struc­tion. On May 8, Phase I was com­pleted, and the gym re­opened to the city, al­low­ing folks at the re­union to tell sto­ries of grow­ing up within its four now-re­struc­tured walls.

“When the gym burned down on Oct. 20, 2005, we came to­gether and said we weren’t go­ing to lose any more of our build­ings,” said Kay Cog­gin, pres­i­dent of Friends of Por­terdale Inc., the group driv­ing the ef­fort to re­hab the gym. “There’s not a fa­cil­ity, even like it is now, there’s not a fa­cil­ity any­where around like the Por­terdale Memo­rial Gym.”

Cog­gin said the next step is to be­gin Phase II, which is to put a roof back on the build­ing.

“I want to see Por­terdale re­vi­tal­ized so it can be a vi­tal part of the com­mu­nity,” Cog­gin said. “I want peo­ple to know they can come out here and they don’t have to be afraid.”

Jan­ice Denny John­son, whose grand­fa­ther was an over­seer at the old mill, re­mem­bered Por­terdale as it was when she was a child: the per­fect place to be.

“I was born at that hos­pi­tal, I went to school in those two schools, I was mar­ried in that church,” said John­son, sim­ply point­ing in the di­rec­tion of her mem­o­ries.

She moved to Jack­sonville, Florida, when she was about 25 years old but moved back to Por­terdale and said she loves see­ing old friends at the re­union ev­ery year. She couldn’t even get one sen­tence out with­out wav­ing ex­cit­edly or notic­ing some­one new.

Dar­rell Everidge/the Cov­ing­ton News

Kayla Robins/the Cov­ing­ton News

Kay Cog­gin, pres­i­dent of Friends of Por­terdale Inc., un­veils the his­toric marker in front of the Porter Memo­rial Gym­na­sium Satur­day, Sept. 6 at the 2014 an­nual Por­terdale Re­union, mark­ing the first time the event could be held in the gym since a fire dam­aged the build­ing beyond use in 2005.

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