Apr 21, 2017 - By Alejandra Silva, Staff WriterGroup working on upgrades to Veterans Memorial Park
A local committee is two weeks ahead of schedule for upgrades at the Veterans Memorial Park behind City Hall on North Federal Boulevard along the Rails to Trails path.
Veteran Kent Cook told the Riverton City Council that the upgrades are part of an overall plan to create a more family-friendly, inviting park that recognizes all local donors and veterans-- especially those who are still alive and part of the community.
The committee hopes the park provides a warm, open invitation to families, Cook said.
Cook reported that the committee is prepared to submit its first order for approximately 122 veteran bricks. At least 110 orders were required.
The bricks, which will be engraved with details about local veterans, will be placed on each side of the park's entrance.
Each four-inch by eight-inch red brick will show as much information as the purchasing individual desires, including information about their career in service, Cook suggested.
The committee also has acquired payment for 29 "patriot's" stones which will list information about donors who volunteered work, money or time to help with the upgrades.
"This donor is volunteering an immense amount of work," Cook said. "And as a thank you to his company we're going to display his stone."
The business can choose what is engraved on its stone as well.
The donor stones will be at the front border of the entrance sidewalk, and they will be sealed for extra protection.
The committee was happy to report it is preparing a second order of veteran bricks, which are still available for sale.
The money from the brick sales will help fund an $8,600 steel picnic shelter for the park. The shelter will be similar to the one located at Sunset Park-- that's where they got the idea, Cook explained.
"We do have a bid for the purchase of the material," he said. "We're happy to say we have multi-thousand dollars worth of donations in time and materials for the construction and placement of that picnic shelter."
The committee is seeking grant donations, including $7,000 from the Fremont County Recreation Board.
While the committee is waiting to hear from the recreation board, students from the Wind River Job Corps will complete the foundation for the shelter.
"They will do that flat work, foundation work, and put in supports and braces for the building as part of those learning opportunities," Cook said.
The Job Corps will pay students an hourly wage, while the veterans committee will be in charge of paying the crews who will supervise the students.
Flag poles are a big part of the updates at the park.
High Plains Power volunteered to remove the flag that was still located at the old Veterans of Foreign Wars building at 1409 West Main Street.
"They have completely rebuilt it, repainted it, and prepared it for a lighted American flag to be flown as the center flag of the three flags," Cook said.
That flag will stand between the Wyoming flag and the POW/MIA flag. Unfortunately, there aren't many donors for that portion of the project, Cook said, but what is being donated is helping substantially.
"There aren't more than I can count, but the dollars equal to what we would have to pay if it was all for cash is tremendous," he added.
The park will also have new flags representing branches of the U.S. Military including the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marines.
There are several large, white stars engraved on two cement platforms shaped like triangles on each side of the park entrance.
Riverton Ready Mix donated the cement for the platform and performed the work to pour them into place.
The triangles symbolize folded flags that are given to families when their loved ones are killed in combat.
"That was a huge donation to the Veterans Memorial Park," Cook said. "And once it's poured, before it sets, we have another business that is donating to us the six, special coated white stars for each triangle."
The stars will be pressed in the not-yet set concrete, then they will be sealed with a protective coat. They will be painted blue after the concrete sets. The seal will then be removed to display the stars.
The original park was dedicated July 6, 1996, so Cook suggested a dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony be held July 6 of this year.
By then, Cook said the committee expects to have the first set of bricks back and permanently placed on the concrete base. Veterans of Foreign Wars member Jim Arndt expects to receive the stones in about four weeks, and in June they will be placed at the park.
He encouraged the community to visit the park and see the progress.
"Stop by and look at what's going on," he said.
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