City celebrates opening of new Weldon Pavilion

CHELSEA – Dozens of community members celebrated the completion of a new building featuring pieces of an old Chelsea landmark on Tuesday, Aug. 11.

City leaders hosted a Coffee with the Mayor event and ribbon cutting ceremony at the Weldon Pavilion, a facility located at the Chelsea Sports Complex built with certain materials salvaged from the old Weldon store, which stood on Shelby County 47 before it was dismantled in early 2017.

“I know many have doubted this day would happen, and I completely understand that,” Mayor Tony Picklesimer said, “but I am so thankful to this City Council for allowing me to keep this promise.”

Designed as a replica of the Weldon building, the pavilion features much of the building’s original wood, along with the red screen doors, windows and beams.

The pavilion overlooks the lake and will be available for public use.

Picklesimer described the old Weldon building as a landmark, a gathering space and a place that represented community in Chelsea.

He then recognized members of the Weldon family in attendance.

“This place holds so many memories, and it’s so very special to us,” said Dawn Weldon Arnold, whose grandfather owned the store. “I grew up in Chelsea. We were at the store all the time, all summer long. We’re just so thankful that this was redone. I’m sad my daddy didn’t get a chance to see it, but he knew it was coming, and I know he can see it from heaven.”

In his remarks, Picklesimer also paid tribute to Chelsea Fire Chief Wayne Shirley, who passed away on Thursday, Aug. 6.

“Life is a series of ups and downs, and we are as a city experiencing one of our downs,” he said. “We lost one of our great leaders Thursday night. For him to pass away at the age of 53 is way too young.”

Picklesimer said Shirley loved the city and serving it as fire chief, noting Shirley asked to meet with Picklesimer to discuss appointing Joe Lee as deputy chief the day before Shirley was hospitalized for a lung infection.

“Even in his last duty, he put Chelsea first,” Picklesimer said. “It was a privilege to know him and serve with him. He will be sorely missed.”

Picklesimer also mentioned Donald Shirley, Wayne Shirley’s father, who passed away on Friday, Aug. 7.

Donald Shirley was a dedicated volunteer for the Chelsea Citizen Observer Patrol, and years ago, served as a volunteer firefighter in Chelsea.

“Don Shirley was my friend,” Picklesimer said. “He was just an incredible guy, and I will miss him so much.”