Ohio County veterans and American Legion members packed the Rising Sun City Council chambers on Thursday, Aug. 3rd in support of a new memorial project on the city’s riverfront.
Local attorney Lane Siekman explained the project presented by Ohio County Veterans Officer Bill Parks.
The project has received a $40,000 grant from the Rising Sun Regional Foundation which received a 50 percent match from the Ohio County Community Foundation. There is currently $67,000 available for the project which was estimated at $101,000.
After nearly an hour of discussion, council voted to approve the project with the latest design to move to the engineering phase. Land Consultants, which has been involved with ongoing riverfront development, was proposed for the project.
The design calls for six monuments with three flag poles (two 40′ and one 50′). A Garrison flag 10’x15’will be flown only on special events. Usually there will be an 8’x10′ American flag in the middle of Indiana and POW flags. The difference with the latest design is the adding of pilings into riverfront for base of monument. There will be six stones instead of five, according to Parks, and the location of the flags is on the river side
Siekman told councilman Bill Marksberry there would be a four foot wide sidewalk and a total 40 foot area inside the current tower.
Mayor Brent Bascom pointed out that the tower is a tribute to past, present and future veterans. However, Siekman said the current tower is not about those who paid ultimate sacrifice. Ohio County’s honor roll has 31 names of those who died in service. The monument has room for 12 more.
Siekman said the project received an original thumbs up in July 2015 by the previous council.
Bascom formed a committee when the project had changed. Larry Young and Roger Hilligoss were among the legion members involved.
Councilman Dennis Williams’ concern was making sure this was the final design.
The only opposition to the project were adjacent homeowners including Art Wright, president of the condo home owner association since 2006. His wife expressed concern with lighting and blocking of the homeowner’s view of the Kentucky hills. The mayor echoed those concerns in additional letters from Kay Rager, Barbara Hoffman and John Espey.
Wright explained Jim Verdin designed the veterans tower to stand alone. Adding to the area would be “belittling the original design of the tower… by putting other things around.”
Wright expressed additional concern for limited green space for setting up car show tents and use during the navy bean festival
Parks reported there would be very low illumination on the flag.
Siekman added that the Vietnam Wall had a lot of opposition but is now the most visited.
Resident Sandy Kinzer said if a county-wide vote was taken, on the issue, everybody but a few would vote in favor.
Councilman Swede Colen said veterans were here long before the condos.
Veteran Joe Halloran spoke in support while noting he hears pings and pangs all night long from his flags and “I love to hear it. I know what it stands for.”
Parks said the project has been two years in the works. County council and the economic development have given support.
In addition to a place for veterans and families to meditate, Parks said the new memorial could be the site of cremation services which currently take place in front of funeral home.