The waters of the Bard Centennial Fountain are dancing again, signaling the beginning of warmer days in William County.
The fountain, on the northeast corner of Bryan’s courthouse square, was christened in 2014 to commemorate Bard Manufacturing’s 100th anniversary, and has became one of the most recognizable and most visited features in downtown Bryan.
Constructed of brick and limestone to match the courthouse, it has a 30-foot pool of recycling water and features 21 jets. The tallest, in the center, shoots straight up, while four smaller jets around it spray outward and 16 jets around the perimeter spray inward.
The fountain is shut down during winter and usually turned on by the first “frost-free” day of the spring. It was on and off Tuesday while final electrical and mechanical issues were resolved, then sprang to life Wednesday.
A mechanism on the fountain determines wind strength and the fountain shuts down automatically when the wind exceeds a certain level, according to Jim Kozumplik, a member of the volunteer “fountain committee” that keeps the fountain clean and operating efficiently.
Kozumplik said he’s been overseeing preparations to start up the fountain for the past few weeks, which has included about 10 hours filling up the 30-foot pool of water, plus replacing five water line valves and a pump that are housed in a small underground control room near the fountain.
“We get a lot of moisture from the winter in here, it gets into the parts and (they have to be replaced),” he said from down in the control room Tuesday.
The fountain was financed by the Bryan Development Corporation through donations from the Bard Family Foundation. The foundation has a funding mechanism to cover the costs of the maintenance, and Kozumplik estimated he’s spent about $5,000 to get the fountain ready.
He said Brad Yoder, Starks Plumbing Heating AC, Burt Process Equipment, Craig Vogel Electric and Jeff Greenler Plumbing & Heating LLC are some of the local companies that volunteer their labor and generally only charge the less expensive wholesale price for parts.
The operation of the fountain is a labor of love for the volunteers, who in addition to Kozumplik include Sam Brubaker, Bob Golding, Eric Herman, Blake Rockey and Doug Hanna. Once the fountain is operating, each volunteer is assigned a shift to take care of the daily or weekly maintenance.
“These guys do an amazing job keeping the fountain up and running. Turning the fountain on has really become one of the highlights that says ‘Spring is officially here,’” Bryan Area Chamber Of Commerce Executive Director Dan Yahraus said Wednesday.
“I enjoy working on it,” said Kozumplik. “I love seeing the people sitting around it at night and enjoying the courthouse. It’s absolutely a great asset for Bryan.”