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Lights, Camera, Action!

Milton, Ky., centenarian Webster
to appear in bridge TV documentary

She and others were interviewed for upcoming show

 


 
(May 2015)
Read previous Don Ward columns!
Don Ward

(May 2015) – At age 100, you might expect that Milton, Ky., resident Reva Webster is full of stories. You would be right. Webster had the opportunity to share some of those stories March 31 when she was filmed for an upcoming television documentary on the building of the Milton-Madison Bridge.
While Webster is no engineering expert or politician, both of which were instrumental in getting the $103 million project completed, she did serve as a bridge contest princess representing Milton during the 1929 celebration to open the first Milton-Madison Bridge. And she was quite the celebrity during the dedication ceremony of the new bridge that was held in December at the Madison’s Brown Gym. Webster was recognized at that event and generated several comments during speeches from the dignitaries such as Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear and State Rep. Rick Rand.

Photo by Don Ward

Reva Webster, age 100, is interviewed at her home in April by Louisville filmmaker Mark Crowner for an upcoming television documentary about the new Milton-Madison Bridge. Webster at age 17 was a Bridge Princess from Milton in 1929.

Louisville independent filmmaker Mark Crowner conducted the one-hour, on-camera TV interview at Webster’s home, asking her to describe her memories of that bygone era and her thoughts on today’s new bridge. He also showed her a restored black-and-white, silent video of the parade of floats that took place on Madison’s Main Street in 1929. Webster was aboard the Milton float with three other teenagers, including Marguerite Pecar, who won Queen of the Bridge.
Webster was able to identify herself on board the float as it glided down Main Street on that cold December afternoon.
Although her comments will be only a small part of the 28-minute bridge documentary, it gave her an exciting opportunity to tell her stories and recall her teenage years. She described the impact to her town of Milton and the changes that occurred in the aftermath of the first bridge opening.

Photo by Don Ward

Mark Crowner (above) of Louisville, Ky., filmed and edited the upcoming TV documentary on the Milton-Madison Bridge. His interviews included one with 100-year-old Reva Webster of Milton.

Crowner was hired by Doe-Anderson Advertising Agency in Louisville to produce the documentary. He said the documentary will focus on the economic need for the new bridge, the unique construction design of the project, the impact on the two communities and impressions by area residents.
“It was part of our plan at the outset to create a video about the project, said Bob Lauder of Doe Anderson.
Lauder said while the focus of the documentary was to showcase the engineering and technology marvels of the project, they also wanted to include some human interest aspects. So they have interviewed a large number of local officials, in addition to Webster.
Others interviewed include Kentucky State Rep. Rick Rand, Jack Couch, a former Trimble County Judge-Executive and now executive director of the Kentuckiana Regional Planning and Development Agency, Kathy Eaton-McKalip of the Indiana Department of Transportation, Walsh Construction Co. Project Manager Charlie Gannon, Aaron Stover and Larry Collins of Michael Baker Jr. Inc., Murray Johnson of Burgess & Niple Engineers, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary Mike Hancock, Kate Heyden of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, Madison Mayor Damon Welch, John Staicer, executive director of Historic Madison Inc., Camille Fife, the city’s Preservation Officer at the time of the project.

Photo by Don Ward

Reva Webster poses with Kentucky State Rep. Rick Rand of Bedford during the December 2014 bridge dedication ceremony.

“It’s a lot of people to try and get into a 28-minute film, but we hope it will be done with little narration and flow very much like a Ken Burns documentary,” Lauder said. “It will be sound-bite driven with some narration. We hope to also capture the flavor of historic Madison.”
Lauder said there was much video already from the project, including the demolition events of the old bridge and time lapse video of the two new bridge section slides. The documentary also includes information about Walsh Construction Co. assisting the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife in protecting the peregrine nesting boxes that existed under the old bridge. New nesting boxes were created and installed under the new bridge, and the falcons accepted them.
Production on the documentary is scheduled to wrap in May, and it will likely be ready for airing sometime in late summer or fall, Lauder said. Lauder said the local Kentucky Educational Television network may likely air it on its local stations.
“The KET documentary is not set in stone, although we have a verbal agreement from the program director,” Lauder said. “He needs to see it and approve it, which we don’t expect to have any problems with since Mark Crowner has done other KET docs in the past.”
Lauder said there is no KET equivalent in Indiana but he is exploring opportunities to broadcast the documentary there.
At 2,428 feet long, the Milton-Madison Bridge became the longest bridge in North America – and perhaps the world – to be slid laterally into place when it was moved 55 feet from temporary piers onto refurbished permanent piers in April 2014.
A traditional construction method would have closed the bridge for more than one year. Walsh Construction Co.’s innovative method of building the new bridge greatly reduced closure time by allowing drivers to use the bridge on temporary piers, while the old bridge was demolished and the existing piers were refurbished.

Photo by Don Ward

The Milton-Madison Bridge
re-opened to traffic
April 17, 2014.

Ground was broken on the project in December 2010. Indiana and Kentucky evenly split the cost of the project, which also benefitted from a $20 million federal TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant. Work on the new steel truss – at 40-feet wide, nearly twice the size of the original bridge – began in September 2011. The new truss was completed atop temporary piers in December 2012 and traffic was switched to it in the spring of 2013. The old bridge was demolished that summer in a series of spectacular explosions. Finally, in April 2014 the new bridge was slid from the temporary piers onto its permanent refurbished piers and re-opened to traffic on April 17.
Since its opening, the new bridge has been a hit with motorists and pedestrians, many of whom have long awaited the opening during the four-year construction process. Webster, like many other area residents, said she did not think she would live long enough to see the new bridge opened.
Not only has she done so, her longevity has demonstrated that one of the perks of living to 100 is celebrity. Asked what she thought about appearing in a television documentary on the bridge project, she quipped, “It took me long enough to get noticed.”

• Don Ward is the editor, publisher and owner of RoundAbout. Call him at (812) 273-2259 or email him at: info@RoundAbout.bz.

 

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