A small park in the middle of Ten Trails was recently re-named after a prominent Black Diamond resident for his service to the city.
Keith Watson, 84, had no idea he’d be bestowed such an honor when he attended the dedication ceremony at what was formerly known as “Big Rock Park” on Sept. 18.
“It was a complete surprise,” Watson said after the event, adding that he thought everyone was gathering to celebrate former Mayor Gomer Evans’ 94th birthday (which, coincidentally, was the same day). “It was king of overwhelming, to tell you the truth.”
Speaking at the event was Oakpointe CEO Brian Ross and Black Diamond’s Master Development Review Team head Andy Williamson, who also read a statement from Mayor Carol Benson; she was out of town and could not attend the ceremony.
“He’s been instrumental in pretty much everything in Black Diamond,” said Jon Lakefish, director of marketing at Oakpointe. “In my opinion, there’s a handful of people in Black Diamond that have made it what it is today, and he’s at the top of that list.”
Watson grew up in Black Diamond watching the coal train roll down Railroad Street to the local depot. His family left the area before World War II, but found their way back when the war ended.
“Black Diamond is in my blood, so to speak,” he said.
As an adult, Watson has been instrumental in several areas around the city; he served on the city council’s Planning Commission for four years (and served as chair the last two), and is currently the President of the Black Diamond Community Center and the local history museum.
“Keith’s been a good role model for a lot citizens,” Williamson said. “[He’s] always been grateful with his time, be it at the museum, on the Planning Commission,… the Community Center. And always with a sense of peace and calm and listening to all points of view.”
When asked about what the Black Diamond community means to him, Watson said “it’s almost like a family.”
“Just about everybody that lives here wants things to be better, be improved, and continue to grow,” Watson said. “I’ve met some of the finest people I’ve ever met in Black Diamond, and they’re all volunteers. They love volunteering, they love doing things in town, and it’s just a pleasure.”