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WJBD - Local News - Watson to Build Park in Slain Girl's Honor

Watson to Build Park in Slain Girl's Honor

By Rob Sussman, WJBD News

Officials in the Village of Watson, just south of Effingham, hope to officially open "Willow Park" in honor of slain 7 year old Willow Long to the public this summer after several months of footwork by community members and the Watson Village Board. 

The idea for the park came after several community members approached the Village Board looking for a way to remember Long. Village Board member Colby Higgs says the park will be a great place for kids, with new swingsets and playground equipment to memorialize a childhood that ended too soon.

"The park will be located just north of the Civic Center adjacent to an existing playground. It's for Children in the community to play on, and we hope it will be a good way to remember Willow and her love to play--her childhood" said Higgs.

A 5k Walk/Run is scheduled to help benefit the park, and will take place this summer on May 23rd at 6:30 pm at the Watson Baptist Church. Early registration for the event is $15 until May 9th, and will be $20 after May 9th. For more information on registration, contact Colby Higgs at 217-347-7297.

Direct cash donations are also being accepted at all Midland States Bank locations.

Willow Long was killed in September of 2013 in Watson by her uncle, Justin DeRyke, who was recently sentenced to spend the rest of his natural life in prison.

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