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Monday, September 13, 2021

Marion Commission blesses gateway signage project to welcome visitors

The Marion County Board of County Commissioners recently approved a resolution acknowledging and supporting a gateway signage project.

The resolution gives the green light to continue moving forward with the project that will construct multiple aesthetic signs and county line markers intended to welcome visitors to Marion County. Construction is expected to begin in the fall.

A rendering of the gateway signage project in Marion County.

The gateway project is designed to introduce tourists to Marion County’s unique character by creating two sets of county line markers, as well as two representative gateways for tourists driving through the county on Interstate 75. Richard Busche, an engineer with Kimley-Horn and the project manager, presented the final concept to the Board of County Commissioners at a recent meeting.

The design is intended to reflect what makes Marion County distinctive, including an “OCALA” identification marker and artwork depicting landscape that is true to the destination’s natural environment, as well as equine silhouettes in a pastoral setting.

The gateways will feature several horses engaged in activities including training, enjoying an outing with a rider, and a mother and foal under the shade of native trees – each distinctively portraying the opportunities that await a visitor to Marion County.

“The Board and I are happy to support this project for our community and our tourism industry,” said Commission Chairman Jeff Gold. “The gateway project will be something Marion County residents can be proud of and visitors will be drawn to, boosting economic growth and our community identity.”

“This gateway project will further achieve our goal of creating a sense of arrival for travelers coming to the county for business, recreation and special events; while complementing the quality of life that our community has to offer”, said Loretta Shaffer, Marion County Tourism Development director. “We look forward to what lies ahead for our community as we complete this project and create a beautiful and significant Gateway design that announces arrival to our beautiful county and all the urban communities that surround it.”