EAST LIVERPOOL - The fountain on Devon's Diamond has not been operable for many years, but that could change in the next few months as students from the University of Mount Union take on the challenge of renovating it.
The project was the brain child of freshman Gretchen Dietz, daughter of Dan and Ann Dietz of Park Boulevard.
As part of her civil engineering course, Dietz and her classmates were assigned to write essays about their passion.
"Mine is bringing life back to the downtown," she said, adding, "I also wrote about how I like to volunteer and give back to my town."
Dietz said her professor made her begin thinking about what one thing she could bring back to life and, while sitting with her parents one night, the idea of renovating the fountain came up.
Students voted on the projects and, Dietz said, "They felt they could impact the town with this one. I was surprised so many voted for it. It's nice to see people come together for the common good."
She said some of the students had never even heard of her home town and "now it's part of their hearts, too."
The projects had to involve some engineering, and the seven students working on the fountain project must find the problem with its operation and determine how to repair it.
Service-Safety Director Ryan Estell said the fountain was operating a few years ago but has been inoperable more often than it has worked. He said before it became inoperable, it was leaking water but said the exact problems are unknown at this time.
Each of the students has been designated a particular aspect of the project, such as client contacts (Dietz), mechanical, design and writers, since a report must be prepared about the project once it is completed. The deadline for completion is May.
Plans call for reassembling the pump, cleaning, painting and filling the fountain and getting the geysers to work once again, Dietz said.
At some point in the project, she wants to get local students involved, saying her idea is to work with an area pottery to provide tiles that will be painted by the children. They will be taken back to the university for firing then cemented on the top of the fountain.
Already, the students have interacted with community officials, getting information and blueprints from Estell and planning Director Bill Cowan. Their professor is also helping with ideas, and Dietz said with a smile, "He's there if we really get stumped, but basically, they are all our ideas."
The university provided the students with a $100 budget, but it was quickly realized that wasn't going to go far, considering the special pool paint needed for the interior of the fountain costs about $50 a gallon, with at least two gallons needed.
Student Nathan Lorah mentioned the project to his dad, Steve, who happens to be the materials process manager at Heritage Thermal, which operates the hazardous waste incinerator in the city's East End.
"We love this kind of stuff a group of kids excited to do something for the community," according to the elder Lorah, who added, "This is on the National Register of Historic Places. It should be a nice spot to hang out."
The company has agreed to fund the project for whatever is needed above the $100 budget.
The city will also do its part, according to Estell, who said, "Once they figure out a plan, we will work out the roles everyone will play. If they need construction equipment or heavier labor, the street department will certainly help out."
On Friday afternoon, Dietz and three other students - freshman Ivan Chaqueco of Fairview Park; sophomore Tommy Mohney and freshman Nathan Lorah, both of East Liverpool - spent time cleaning out the fountain and checking out the workings of the pump.
Heritage-Thermal provided safety supplies and refreshments for this initial work session.