An unexpected $770,000 inheritance left to Fresno County will go partly toward fixing the ornamental fountain outside the county courthouse, county supervisors decided Tuesday.
The rest of the money, the Board of Supervisors agreed, will be set aside in a trust fund and be spent later on various park projects across the county.
"I want to make sure that we're very respectful and mindful of what was given to the citizens of Fresno County," Supervisor Judy Case said.
The cash windfall, which is expected to arrive over the next two months, comes from a little-known Clovis man, Ernest Lawrence. Lawrence died last year at 71, leaving behind no wife, children or local family.
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In his will, he specified that his life savings go to county parks.
At Tuesday's board meeting, supervisors designated $20,000 of the inheritance for the repair of the 45-year-old courthouse fountain, which was on the brink of closing.
The fountain's $7,300 pump was working only intermittently and various electrical and structural problems plagued the downtown landmark.
"We have a safety issue," said Alan Weaver, director of the county Public Works and Planning Department. He noted that he has been reluctant to send his employees out to clean and maintain the fixture for fear that one of them would get hurt.
The fountain restoration approved Tuesday will include a bronze plaque honoring Lawrence and his parents.
The work should be completed by the beginning of next year, public works officials said.
County supervisors on Tuesday also put out a call for staff, community groups and residents to submit ideas on how to spend the remainder of Lawrence's contribution.
Proposals can be emailed to email@example.com.