Latest project totals $1.5 millionThe Astoria Column has received a $1.5 million face lift: A new granite plaza now surrounds the Column, with individual pavers, seating, and signage listing supporters and Column contributors.

To celebrate, the community is invited to the Column from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 10, for an event titled, "Where History Takes Off," hosted by Friends of the Astoria Column. It will be an opportunity for nearly 2,000 people who purchased engraved paving stones to see them for the first time with their names etched in granite. Maps will be available to help people locate their pavers.

Gov. Ted Kulongoski, Astoria Mayor Willis Van Dusen and Jordan Schnitzer, president of the Friends board, will be on hand for the official dedication of the renovated Column Plaza, which starts at 11:30 a.m.

A short program highlighting improvements and plans will be followed by a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony. Following the program, a schedule of entertainment featuring musical performers from the local area will welcome crowds until 4 p.m. Free refreshments will be available while they last.

The day-long event will culminate at 10 p.m. when newly installed spotlights will illuminate the Column.

Schnitzer is pleased with the Column's new visibility. "Since 1926, the Astoria Column has been lit by sunlight, moonlight, snowfall and rain," he says. "For the first time, it will be lit by spotlights making it visible at night from almost anywhere in town."

To maximize access to the site, a free shuttle service will be available to transport visitors from Astoria Middle School to the Column from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. No private cars will be allowed to enter Astor Park that day during shuttle operations. After 4 p.m., private cars will again be allowed to park at the Column.

The park will close at 10 p.m. after the lighting ceremony.

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