Cheney Free Press -

By Lee Hughes
Staff Reporter 

On Heron Pond

The curious tale of Marsha the Marsh Monster

 

August 8, 2019

Lee Hughes

Marsha the Marsh Monster, left, and her offspring, Reed, recently reappeared on Heron Pond adjacent to Salnave Road/State Route 902 between Medical Lake and Interstate 90 after a long absence, much to the delight of many local neighbors and passers-by.

Drivers traveling between Cheney and Medical Lake may have noticed the return of an unusual aquatic neighbor on Heron Pond, adjacent to Salnave Road just west of Interstate 90.

Marsha the Marsh Monster is back, and she's brought her offspring, Reed, with her.

The sculptures are the creation of retired fiberglass fabricator Jerry Pitts, a long-time resident of the pond. Long an icon on the rural highway, Marsha has a bit of a storied past.

While her origin dates vary depending on the source, Marsha first surfaced sometime in the late 1980s, bobbing on the surface of the pond, much to the surprise of passing motorists.

And there she stayed, tethered year-round to the bottom of the pond by a cinder block anchor.

"She was there a long time," Pitts said.

Until she wasn't. According to news reports of the time, Marsha went missing one day during a drought in the early 90s, and no one knew where she'd gone.

Then, about two months after her disappearance, Pitt's was notified that Marsha had been found - in the basement of one of the student apartments at Lakeland Village, the Department of Social and Health Services facility in Medical Lake.

It turned out that some of the College in-Resident Volunteers, or CIRV students, working at Lakeland had kidnapped Marsha for reasons that were never fully explained.

"Who knows why kids do what they do," Pitts said, recalling the incident. "One day we looked out there and there she was again."

And Marsha's life went back to normal - for a while.

Things turned ugly when a new neighbor moved into a house on the pond and announced plans to build some bridges into the wetlands surrounding the pond. The neighbor took exception when Pitts informed him that he would need to go through a permitting process to do so.

"You can't just build bridges out on the wetlands," Kathy Pitts, Jerry's wife, recalled. "He was really angry about that."

Then one day Kathy looked out on the pond and saw the neighbor removing Marsha from the pond.

Pitts called the neighbor and thanked him for removing Marsha, as he was planning to do so himself for maintenance purposes.

"Call me and I'll come over and pick her up," Pitt's said on a voice message on the neighbor's answering machine. "Well, he never did call me."

So Pitts called the Sheriff to report the incident. Deputies confronted the neighbor, who admitted he had removed Marsha and disposed of her, but argued that the sculpture had been on his property.

Pitts later won a small claims court settlement against the neighbor, arguing the cinderblock anchor was on his property. The neighbor eventually moved away.

Marsha's last abduction was 14 years ago, according to Pitts.

In that time he and Kathy had retired, and in 2010 decided to fulfill a lifelong dream of joining the Peace Corps. Pitts was 70.

The couple returned in 2012 after serving in the Peace Corps on the island of Jamaica.

While Pitts had worked on recreating Marsha off and on for years, he finally finished her after some encouraging neighbors actually donated money to the cause.

Built of Styrofoam and fiberglass, Marsha and Reed, also known locally as Nessie, are of the genus Pitts has dubbed necasoris, or American water dragon.

Locals have already been commenting excitedly on the reappearance of Marsha and her progeny, Reed, on the website Nextdoor.

Marsha spans generations. Many local adults grew up being told origin tales of Marsha by their parents, stories such as how the channels in the wetlands surrounding the pond were created by Marsha's appetite for wetland plants.

Now they can share similar stories with their kids - and create new stories for the origins of Reed.

Lee Hughes can be reached at lee@cheneyfreepress.com.

 

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