Buffalo Island Veterans Park dedicated
A special Flag Day dedication service was held Monday, June 14, for the Buffalo Island Veterans Park in Leachville.
In less than a year project leaders raised over $120,000 to complete the park and bring a dream into a reality.
Buffalo Island Veterans Park Committee members include Scott Adams, chairman; Karen Wallace, vice chairman; Marilyn Looney, treasurer; Myrna Adams, secretary; along with Barbara Lloyd, David Wallace, Loretta Cude, Joe Hultquist, Gilda Hultquist, Beth Thompson and Mandy McFall.
A large black granite monument takes center stage at the park and contains over 400 names of area veterans. Three lots make up the 75x105' park site and were donated by Mr. and Mrs. Charles "Boe" Adams, Rodney Robertson and the City of Leachville.
A new concrete block wall has been constructed adjacent to Blaine Higginbotham's dental office on the north side of the park site. The wall surface has been smoothed and sealed for placement of a military mural, when funding is available.
New sidewalks have been added to the interior and along the southern edge of the park.
The committee raced against the clock to get the park completed and landscaped by Flag Day, and they were successful in their mission. Every shrub and blade of grass were in place when guests arrived for the dedication service. Hundreds of people lined the streets on the south and west side of the park, as the program began at 10 a.m.
Master of Ceremonies Joe Hultquist gave the formal welcome, and the Craighead County Veterans Honor Guard presented the colors. As the first flag was raised in the park a 21-volley salute was presented by the West Memphis VFW Post #5222 as a salute to the veterans. A musical rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" was played as many visitors sang along while placing their hands on their hearts. Taps was played at the completion of the ceremony.
Aaron and Vickie Keith presented the flagpole in honor of the Woodsmen of the World and Ronnie D. Keith.
Hultquist introduced Chairman Scott Adams, calling him "a valuable spark plug for our committee."
"I want to thank our local businesses and farmers," Adams said. "We raised over $100,000 to complete this project in less than a year. We want people to take notice of what our soldiers mean to us, we want our service people to be remembered."
Danny Honnoll, of Jonesboro, was special guest speaker at the dedication. Honnoll is the great-great-grandson of James W. Honnoll, one of the founders of the city of Leachville. Honnoll gave a brief overview of the founding and the promise of Leachville and the soldiers who fought to keep the American dream alive.
Leachville native State Representative Charolette Wagner addressed the audience.
"I am proud of what the people of Leachville have accomplished," Wagner said. "Not everyone wants to gather in a large city. Many people still want to be in a small town. Leachville is an excellent place to live and make a home."
"This memorial park is something the entire area can take pride in," Mayor Sheila Spurlock said. "The committee has done a superior job in raising the money and developing the site. The park will continue to grow as even more names and markers are added. This committee worked together so well and they have had an outpouring of support from everyone. It never ceases to amaze me what a group of dedicated volunteers can accomplish."
A reception was held inside city hall following the dedication.
Pictured from left: Sons of Revolution soldier Harold Hunt carrying a replica of the Betsy Ross US flag, Danny Honnoll, Arkansas Veterans Director David Fletcher, Joe Hultquist, and Sons of Confederacy soldier Ray Jones, carrying the Arkansas flag. (Town Crier photos/Nan Snider)
(Large committee group at reception)
Buffalo Island Veterans Park Committee members, from front left include, Barbara Lloyd, Myrna Adams, Marilyn Looney, Karen Wallace, Chairman Scott Adams, and Joe Hultquist. Back row, Gilda Hultquist, Beth Thompson and Mayor Sheila Spurlock.
Project benefactor Myrna Adams and Buffalo Island Veterans Park Chairman Scott Adams.
Craighead County Veterans Honor Guard, of Jonesboro, and West Memphis VFW Post presented the colors and provided a 21-gun salute to flag.