A pile of dirt in the middle of a lot is the only thing the public has seen in recent months regarding the development of the new Jackson County Veterans Memorial Park in Jackson.
But things have been happening behind the scenes and those plans will begin to take physical form in the coming months at the southwest corner of Main and Portsmouth streets in downtown Jackson. The property, which is owned by the City of Jackson, is the former site of the Gibson Hotel.
The objective is to create a lasting memorial “in honor of all Jackson County veterans, past present and future.”
The project is being spearheaded by members representing a coalition of veterans’ organizations in the county who have founded a non-profit corporation known as the Jackson County Veterans Organization, Inc.
Chairman Ron Speakman says he believes the project will serve as a “goodwill gesture to the veterans and to the citizens of Jackson County” and also complement the nearby veterans’ monument at the courthouse and the Powell Memorial.
This group is meeting on a regular basis to plan and develop the Jackson County Veterans Memorial Park with the aim of paying for it completely with private funding and support.
One of the latest developments is a schematic design, which has been provided by Jackson High School senior mechanical drawing student, Darrah Leach. While the project will move forward only as fast as funding is available and work can be done, Leach’s design provides the tentative layout for the elements.
One of the featured components of the park will be a section near the front which honors the county’s three Medal of Honor recipients: Civil War veterans John Wollam and James M. Compston and Vietnam War veteran Donald R. Long. There will be a marble bench dedicated to the memory of each recipient.
There will also be a section in the park dedicated to and listing the names of all Jackson County veterans who lost their lives in the line of duty. Local chiropractor Dr. Todd Rubley has donated the black granite which will used for this memorial tribute.
A third component of the park, engraved bricks, will honor any past or present veteran with a local connection. These bricks will be encased in serpentine walls, 18 to 24 inches in height, which will be erected throughout the park.
This is also serving as the main fundraising source for the project as bricks will be sold for $100 each.
The 18-inch by 24-inch bricks will be inscribed with the honored veteran’s name, rank, branch of service, and war in which he/she served.
“I think it’s a good opportunity to honor dads, brothers, and uncles for their sacrifices and so future generations will know,” Speakman said of the brick tribute.
Thus far, 70 bricks have been sold which has generated $7,000 for the park. Speakman says he would like to see a total of 300 sold before the campaign is over, but says there is enough space in the park for about 1,000 bricks.
Money will also be raised through larger corporate donations of $1,000 or more. A plaque will be put in place to recognize these larger donors.
Donations are also being made in the form of volunteer labor and materials. Stockmeister Enterprises of Jackson will be doing much of the site-preparation work, which will be taking place very soon.
Other donors include The Rose brothers (of R&R Construction) who provided the dirt for leveling process and Don Fannin Construction, who transported it.
One of the local veterans’ groups, the Jackson County AMVETS, financially supported the project by conducting a fundraising golf tournament. Also, the Jackson County Chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of American and the Jefferson Howe Post 81 of the American Legion each made substantial monetary donations as have other private individuals.
There will be a flag triangle at the very front corner of the park with the U.S. flag as the centerpiece with flags representing each branch of the armed services to each side. Space is also being reserved for a gun memorial and for the display of military equipment.
There will also be a flagpole and flag placed in the very center of the park.
Those interested in purchasing bricks may call Speakman (418-5331) or fellow committee members Wendell Brunton (418-2500) and Hayden Oiler (418-6216) or call the Jackson County Veterans Service Office at 286-3004.
Donations can be dropped off during regular business hours to Speakman at The Radio Building, 295 East Main Street in downtown Jackson or can be mailed to: The Jackson County Veterans Organization, Inc. in care of Ron Speakman, 227 South Bennett Avenue, Jackson, Ohio, 45640. All donations are tax-deductible.