Monette Veterans Park dedicated
After two years of research, fund raising and planning, the Veterans Park in Monette was completed and ready for a big dedication ceremony on Memorial Day, May 29.
A big ceremony it was indeed, with over 200 in attendance. The Veterans Park is located at the stoplight intersection downtown, at the junction of Highway 18/Highway 139. A large white tent was set up on the new parking lot, north of the park. Chairs for visitors were made available by the American Legion and the Monette Fire Department. All aspects to visitors' comfort were in the celebration, complete with ice water and old-fashioned hand held fans.
The program consisted of keynote speaker State Senator Dave Wallace, and comments by Mayor Chub Qualls, Veterans Committee Chairman Henrietta Qualls, and State Representative Dan Sullivan. Rev. Jerry Reed led the invocation. The Presentation of the Colors was by Larry Rolland, Dusty Joe Harrell and Dick Pace. Bagpiper Ty Damron played spiritual and patriotic songs during the program. Wendy Walling sang the National Anthem and Jordan Droke sang God Bless America. Brandon Decker led the group in the Pledge of Allegiance. Sound technician Rickey Copeland provided music before and after the program.
Maddigan Carroll, Jace Couch and Curston Davis served as ushers.
“This is a day we have been waiting for for two years,” said Monette Mayor Qualls. “The completion of this park has been a united effort for sure. We started with a vision and a nice lot location donated by the City of Monette, with full support of the city council. We soon realized that honoring our veterans, dead or alive, had been a dream shared by so many people.”
Mrs. Qualls spearheaded the move to build a veterans park and monument and it didn’t take long for her to find committee members to help with the project.
“We were so blessed to have so many people help us by making donations and help with the park project,” Mrs. Qualls said. “We received many large gifts to help us get started, with the main one being from Monette veteran John Paul Masner. He came on board immediately. Unfortunately, he never lived to see the monument completed, but I know he would be proud of it. The total cost of the Veterans Park is almost $90,000.”
Other large donations came from CenturyLink Telecommunications, Craighead County Road Department, Entergy Arkansas Inc., Greenway Equipment Co., Leadership Buffalo Island, Monette American Legion, all Monette City departments, Monette Masonic Lodge, Nucor-Yamato Steel, plus many personal donations.
The Veterans Park has a large black granite monument in the center of a concrete cross shaped walkway, with a tall American flag on the north side. The grounds have been landscaped with sod, shrubs, and even red, white, and blue petunias. Antique street lights and flood lights surround the monument from all sides, making it possible for the monument to be viewed 24 hours a day.
“We have been by here early and late, and see people out here looking at the names of their loved ones on the monument,” Mrs. Qualls said. “Committee members spent countless hours sifting through the applications from people purchasing the space to have their veterans listed on the monument. Plus, we secured names of deceased veterans from Monette, Macey and Black Oak Cemeteries. The EAST students from BIC scanned the cemeteries finding even more names of veterans. We wanted the names of all veterans dead or alive, and from every location, not just from Monette. We have veterans names from all wars, even the Civil War.”
The 12' black granite octagon shaped monument is the feature of the park, complete with a praying soldier on top. The first panel, in front, reads, “Veterans Park, Dedicated to all veterans, Some gave all, All gave some,” along with insignias for all six branches of service. There are 1,003 veterans names engraved on the remaining seven panels, with room for 285 more names. The names are not in alphabetical order on the monument as they were listed as the first forms arrived. Stacy Ryan Shelton of Jonesboro volunteered to type the 1003 names and put them in an alphabetical order finder key, and adding the location of column and row where they could be found. The finder key has been posted in a plastic box near the flagpole for easy access to visitors.
The Monette American Legion made sure all known veterans' names turned in were included on the monument, and paid for 311 names to be engraved. The seven columns can hold up to 1,200 names. Many names have been turned in since the dedication and will be added at a later date. When space on the monument is full of names the committee plans to add more monuments. Forms to add another veteran's name can be picked up at Monette City Hall or by calling 870-486-2000.
Veteran Park Committee members include Mrs. Henrietta Qualls, Nan Snider, Vickki Carroll, Chub Qualls, Linda Qualls, Barbara Suber, Ernestine Harrell, Larry Rolland, Harrell Damron, Ronnie Qualls and Kathy Qualls.