CORY BYKNISH | Herald A mockup of a series of informational history plaques the Sharon Historical Society plans to place throughout downtown Sharon.

During the WaterFire events in recent years, Sharon Historical Society has held history walks to highlight the city’s story.

Now, the society is considering something a little more permanent. During its annual ice cream social fundraising event last week, the society unveiled its plan to install history plaques around Sharon.

Dozens of attendees at the ice cream social at Cravings Cafe and Creamery were able to see the prototype 2-foot-by-3-foot plaque, which focused on flooding of the Shenango River, which regularly plagued Sharon before an Army Corps of Engineers project in 1965 to build the Shenango Lake Dam.

“I think people really liked it,” said society president Taylor Galaska. “It was a topic that people had a connection to.”

The prototype, titled “Taming the Perennially Angry Shenango River,” was designed by society Vice President John Zavinski and, if Galaska gets his way, it will be the first of many plaques that will be installed throughout Sharon.

Future plaques could focus on industry, education, the Henry Buhl family, the Shenango Valley’s first settlers and education.

“All types of topics are going to be covered, depending on sponsorship,” Galaska said.

That — paying for the plaques — is a key consideration. Estimates are running in excess of $1,000 although Galaska said there might be discounts available on a per-plaque basis of the society orders multiple pieces. 

The society is looking for sponsorships and possibly tourism-related grants from businesses and the community to pay for the plaques. Society members also are shopping around for the best prices to manufacture the plaques and the posts for mounting them.

Galaska said the society — which has the ice cream social as its only annual fundraiser — will seek approval from the city for placing the plaques once it has enough money to pay for them. 

“It depends on funding because right now, it’s our money,” he said.

Funding from the ice cream social and other one-off fundraisers help pay for projects like the society’s archival efforts and to enable the organization to keep most of its events free to the public.

Galaska, 20, has been a member of the historical society board since he was 15. He hopes the historical marker plaques will make Sharon’s story more accessible to visitors and residents alike.

He said the WaterFire History Walks have already had a similar effect.

“The history walks have grown from about 20 people to almost 200, with little or no advertising,” Galaska said.

The history walk will return for the next WaterFire on Sept. 21. Galaska said the walk will focus on Sharon’s upper East Hill, with stops at the Buhl Mansion, Daffin’s and Sharon Regional Medical Center. The walks will be held at noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.

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