A big project to honor murdered Evansdale cousins Elizabeth Collins and Lyric Cook is now in the works. The community is planning to build a gazebo in the girls' memory at Meyers Lake, the last place they were seen alive. The park memorial is helping the girls' families heal as investigators keep searching for answers.
Pink and purple ribbons still hang at Meyers Lake in Evansdale, in memory of murdered cousins Elizabeth Collins and Lyric Cook. Now, the community's coming together to build a memorial gazebo for the pair on the lake's island.
"We don't want it to be like, 'Oh that's the park where those two girls were taken from and have negative ideas around the park. We want it to be a place where we can go and other people can go--just kind of have a tranquil, joyful place, a positive place," Heather and Drew Collins said.
Thursday, the gazebo project got a big boost, a $10,000 donation from First Security State Bank.
"We're happy to donate money for this project because they were special girls," said Ron Andresen, First Security State Bank assistant vice president.
Heather and Drew Collins say the bank's generosity will help the memorial to the daughter and niece get off the ground. There are already images being circulated for ideas on how the pedestrian bridge and gazebo could be designed. For the family, the project is helping them stay positive, not dwelling on the sadness they've lived since the girls went missing July 13th.
"It keeps our mind focused away from the waiting game. We can just stay focused on this kind of stuff," Drew Collins said.
While the girls might not be in the headlines every day, investigators are still hard at work, trying to solve the case.
"There's stuff of course we know that we don't divulge to the public because if we do catch somebody in this, and we're confident it's going to happen we hope, every tip needs to be followed up on and that's being done," said Rick Abben with the Black Hawk County Sheriff's Office.
And as the pink ribbons fade, the gazebo memorial at Meyers Lake, now called Angels Park, will help keep the call for justice, along with the girls' memories, alive.
The Evansdale parks board is planning to give final approval for the Meyers Lake project at a special meeting Saturday. Work then begin to clear out dead trees and overgrown brush from the lake's island area. Many of the existing, mature trees will be kept in place. Additional landscaping, including flowers and a walkway, will also be added.
Donations can still be made to help with the project at First Security State Bank in Evansdale and Cedar Falls.
Meanwhile, Heather and Drew Collins continue their advocacy work, including support of a capital justice initiative to bring back Iowa's death penalty law. They plan to speak at a national law enforcement conference this spring in Florida to discuss possible improvements to the AMBER alert system. Another speaking engagement is planned in Ames in May.
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