Just south of 40th Ave. on Key Peninsula Highway, the new Longbranch sign. Photo: Rich Hildahl

Just south of 40th Ave. on Key Peninsula Highway, the new Longbranch sign. Photo: Rich Hildahl

The Longbranch Foundation completed its first major community project with the dedication of a new sign located along the Key Peninsula Highway on the northeast end of the Longbranch Improvement Club property. Community members gathered at 11 a.m. Sept. 29 to hear speeches from local leaders and celebrate this landmark achievement with a glass of sparkling cider. 

Designed by world-renowned architect and longtime Longbranch resident Jim Olson, the new sign simply reads: Longbranch Est. 1891. 

In her opening speech, Longbranch Foundation President Barb Floyd said, “We are gathered here to dedicate this community sign; to make a toast and thank all those who have been involved.” The project began in the summer of 2016 when Delia McGinnis, Barbara and Clark Van Bogart drove past the old sign and said to each other, ‘Let’s fix up the old Longbranch sign.’ 

After contacting the property owner and doing some investigation, “We concluded we couldn’t just fix it and would need to build anew,” Floyd said. 

There was some initial concern that the old sign was historic, but thorough research proved otherwise. 

“We moved forward and got these main characters involved,” said Floyd pointing to two men, “Jim Olson to design this beautiful sign and landscape for us; and Mark Ambler who built it. They are the real stars of this show.” 

By the end of 2016, they had a design from Olson. They had an estimate from Ambler. They had 14 donors pledge money to the project. They then approached the LIC to ask about locating the sign on its property. The board agreed and the membership approved the design. “Mark collected the cedar from a log donated by Brook and Kim Stephens of Faraway and it was milled courtesy of Joe Neal of Wood Wise, in Port Orchard,” said Van Bogart. “Then we went to Pierce County Jan. 5, 2017, to get a permit for the sign and they said, ‘No way.’” 

“We sought the help of Pierce County Council Member Derek Young. Young put us together with his assistant John Jolibois and one and a half years later, July 10, we received the permit to erect the sign.”

Clark Van Bogart, LIC president, spoke at the dedication ceremony following Floyd. 

“This was a project completed when community members––some who have lived here for 20 or 30 years and others who have only lived here a few months––LIC members and nonmembers alike, came together. It was not a project of the LIC. We had a wide range of donors who contributed a little over $6,000, so we still have money left in the coffers to install landscape lighting and maybe irrigation next year,” Van Bogart said. 

“I’d like to thank all the volunteers and donors who worked to make this happen, it’s quite remarkable. It brings us back to the words of the LIC founders, ‘for the betterment of the community.’ It says a lot about the people who live here, who love living here, who enjoy this community and want to make it a little better. I think we’ve done that with this sign and by having all the community working on this project together. You are to be congratulated.” 

With all glasses raised, Floyd offered “an extra special thanks to Jim Olson, Mark Ambler”––and she also expressed gratitude to the Van Bogarts, “who both have really pulled this thing together and worked especially hard to help make it happen.” Floyd said. “We couldn’t have done this without any of them; and with that, cheers.” 

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