STARK CITY — Kenneth Sturgeon can't quite remember when they built the bridge on Tiger Road, but he can remember a flood when water overflowed the banks of the small stream beneath and lapped at the bridge's underside.
"I can remember when the water was backed up to those hills," he said. "That was in '41.
"I was a young feller [when the bridge was built], and my dad kept me pretty busy working. I was 13 years old when it was built."
Sturgeon was the guest of honor Thursday afternoon as the Newton County Commission dedicated the county's latest bridge improvement project. The new concrete, two-lane structure replaces one built in 1936.
As guest of honor, Sturgeon was given a proclamation from the commission noting him as a longtime Newton County resident and had the distinction of cutting the ribbon, officially opening the bridge.
"I'm just shocked to be so honored," he said.
Sturgeon's parents moved to the Poppy Road farm where he now resides in 1932, Sturgeon said. He remembers when the stream below was deeper and full of fish, especially bass. He said changing weather conditions made the stream shallow.
Sturgeon said he had lived in other places, but always considered the Poppy Road farm home, particularly while serving in the U.S. Army for "three years, a month and three days" during the height of World War II.
Sturgeon and his wife, Willadean, have been married 46 years.
"We weren't teenagers, we were middle-agers when we got married," he quipped. "Each of us had been married before. She has a son and a daughter, and I have a son and a daughter. And we have several grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren."
Presiding Commissioner Marilyn Ruestman, commissioners Alan Cook and Jim Jackson, and road district board members and workers were on hand for the event.