CHURCH HILL — City officials and members of Church Hill’s VFW Post 9754 gathered at Jaycee’s Park Friday morning to dedicate the newly renovated and improved Veterans Memorial.
It’s been 13 months since the Board of Mayor and Aldermen began talking about making improvements to the memorial, which was originally completed in the early 2000s.
Some local residents had suggested to board members that the structure’s current location in the middle of the park’s walking trail off North Central Avenue didn’t give the memorial the visibility it deserved.
The original plan was to move the memorial to the Senior Center, but Mayor Dennis Deal noted that the city couldn’t find a contractor who could guarantee that the structure could be relocated intact.
“That’s why we didn’t, and the board decided to leave it here,” Deal said. “But even leaving it here there were some big challenges.
“When the board voted to upgrade this memorial, we had a lot of huge trees here. We rented equipment, brought it in here, and probably took 30- 40-foot trees out. Our gazebo was down here next to the memorial, and we moved it out of the way and got it away from the memorial. We redone our bridge. There’s been a lot of work done here and we appreciate it.”
Deal noted that most of the work was completed by city employees.
Aside from removing trees and moving the gazebo, the city replaced three flagpoles which were outdated, installed improved lighting, and made cosmetic improvements to the memorial structure.
The walking area around the memorial was previously covered with brick chips, but they were replaced with a concrete pad.
Alderman Billy Kyle Housewright, who chaired the committee that oversaw the project, noted that the memorial and its eternal flame were barely visible from the road prior to the upgrades.
“If you drive by here at night, it’s kind of like a picture,” Housewright said. “It’s all lit up and really looks good.
“This monument was placed here not to be something pretty to look at, but to serve as a reminder of the price paid by our veterans, families of our veterans, and some who made the ultimate sacrifice so that we may have the right to stand here and do what we’re doing today. Let this memorial serve as a reminder so that we never forget.”