Mayor looks to create Veterans' Walk in town

| 15 Feb 2012 | 10:02

    War memorials to be moved to central location Sparta — The township’s war memorials, commemorating the service of Sparta’s veterans of foreign wars, will soon be moved to one location to create a central Sparta memorial. Several memorial stones with honor rolls listing Spartans who served in World Wars I and II, Korea, Viet Nam, the Persian Gulf Wars and Afghanistan, can currently be found in various spots around town, but some are hidden or inconspicuous and most residents are not aware they exist. The initiative to move all the memorials to one spot is spearheaded by Mayor Jerry Murphy, who says he wants to create a central place where veterans can be remembered and citizens can easily view all the memorials in one leisurely stroll. Murphy announced the veterans’ project initiative after he took office over the summer. He also announced the formation of a new committee, entitled the Parks and Monuments Committee, to study the feasibility of moving the scattered memorials and make plans for the central location. The committee members are Marty Schweighardt, Jim Henderson, John Ricker, and Bob Corbo. Corbo spoke at the council meeting last week and explained the committee’s mission statement, which he said is, “Locate, consolidate, and maintain military monuments and memorials currently dispersed throughout the township.” He said the committee’s goals are to: Identify existing and future monuments and memorials Restore and refurbish existing monuments and memorials Design a centralized site incorporating the existing and future monuments and memorials Create an “interpretive center” that explains the geologic history of the surrounding area and which complements the natural material to be used for the monuments. Murphy told the Independent that the rounded boulders used for many of the memorials are called “erratics." He explained these stones acquire their smooth, rounded shape by having been tumbled about by glacier movement thousands of years ago. Since much of the northeast was covered by a glacier at one time, such stones are common to the region. The proposed location to consolidate all the town’s war memorials is on a portion of township-owned land in front of the VFW Hall on Main St. and a portion of land in front of the municipal building directly across the street. Murphy said an elliptical walkway is planned to encompass both areas and the memorials will be placed in various locations along the walkway. The veterans’ project will kick off with their first relocation, which is a World War I memorial stone that now sits virtually unrecognized in the grassy area of the jug-handle across from the library. Corbo said a volunteer has come forward to donate labor and equipment to move the stone to its new location in time for Nov. 11 Veterans’ Day commemorations. Corvo said the committee hopes to fulfill most of their goals with volunteers and private donations, rather than incur township funds. Committee member Mary Schweighardt has already donated his time and labor to power-wash the existing memorial in front of the VFW Hall. The council in generally in favor of the veterans’ project, but they directed Township Manager David Troast to check with the VFW and make sure there are no objections. Councilwoman Molly Whilesmith said the council and committee should also make sure there are no objections from any of the veterans represented on the memorials. She said, “We should go forward with great care to in no way offend any living veterans or their families.”