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Piddle Park bench dedicated to late council member

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By Amanda Kelly, Staff Writer

A sister, a friend, a neighbor — that’s how Dry Ridge residents and family of late city council member Joni Pelfrey describe her. 

Although her death was in July, friends, family and former neighbors and colleagues worked hard to honor Pelfrey’s memory and her legacy by dedicating a bench for her at Piddle Park. 

About two dozen people came for the dedication, tramping through wet, muddy grass on a cold and rainy November evening to honor Pelfrey. 

Overlooking the lake, Pelfrey’s aunt, Judy Wigginton, said Pelfrey grew up on the street adjacent to Piddle Park. She said Pelfrey loved the town, the lake and the park, and her work on Dry Ridge City Council proved such. 

Pelfrey served on city council from January 2015 until her death. 

“She asked me if she should run for city council,” Wigginton remembered. “I told her, ‘If you want to do it, then do it’ and she asked me if I thought she would win. I knew she would.”

Wigginton was with Pelfrey when she died, but the good memories keep the pain away. 

Friends and family said they could hear Pelfrey’s voice and see her smirk in their minds about having a bench dedicated to her. 

“She would be absolutely thrilled about this,” said Janet Landrum. 

Dry Ridge Mayor Jim Wells said Pelfrey really loved her job on city council and he saw her first-hand dedication to the people of Dry Ridge. Even when ill, she would try her best to make it to meetings. She even asked Wells if she should resign because she felt bad for not being able to be at meetings while she was ill, he said. 

“She was able to attend her last meeting before she passed,” Wells said. “That was very important to her and very representative of how much she cared.”

Wells also said he couldn’t think of a more fitting place to have a bench dedicated for Pelfrey’s memory since she was an integral part of the revitalization of Piddle Park, including bringing ducks to the lake and cleaning it up for visitors. 

Wells said he and volunteers from the streets Pelfrey grew up near, along with family, came together to get the bench installed in the park and have an engraved plate. 

Pelfrey was described as someone who would give them the shirt off her back and not ask for anything in return. 

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