All the pieces are coming together for the opening of the new Veterans Park in downtown Van Buren.
GFWC Women’s League of Van Buren has announced that funding for the four-sided street clock for Freedom Place has been accomplished. The four-dial LED lighted street clock is 15.6-feet tall and includes cast aluminum post, saddle and head as well as aluminum bezels.
“Traditionally, community improvement projects are a two-year project but by adding two additional fundraisers and the generous donations of our citizens, the project has been completed in a record six months,” said Connie Martin, chairman of the fund-raising effort.
The historical reproduction clock to cost $25,453 has been ordered and is in the process of being constructed, Martin said. The clock will be freedom green to complement the green throughout the park and delivery is expected in April when the park is being completed.
“We are very pleased that the clock will be in place for the dedication of the park,” Martin said. “Tonia Fry and her fashion show committee did an awesome job raising $3,819 toward the clock which was our seed money.”
Sales from the novelty calendar featuring Van Buren firefighters netted $5,040.
“Our club is very appreciative that these brave men who protect us, our homes and our businesses had a part in this project,” Martin said.
Sponsors for the calendar included Firefly Boutique and Gifts, Settle/Jernigan Attorneys, The Paint Store, Seasons, The Forging Place, Marrlin Transit Inc., Stirred Catering and Coffee, Bradford and Udouj, AB Lewis Photography, Delta Investment, Main Attraction and Stiletto Lash.
“We also want to thank Ashley Lewis Photography for her time and expertise in making this photo shoot come to life,” Martin said.
Two recent donations received were instrumental to the Women’s League for completing its goal so quickly, she said. Ed and Shirley Yeager gifted $5,000 and Jim and Carole Williamson gifted $2,500.
Also donating were Donna Parker, John Swanson, Joyce Patton, JoAnn Lovelace, Myra Marcisno, Yovanka Tapp, Marrlin Transit, Bill and Debbie Thomas, Carolyn Loyd, Hiltraud James, Pat and Gary Powell, Mary Ann Dodd, Connie Martin, Pat Garner, Darrell and Alice Goodlin, Citizens Bank & Trust, Frank and Brenda Williams, Dick and Sheila Bell, Gary and Judy Crawford, Jean Allison and Steven and Diana Peer.
Total donations were $18,240.
“As chairman of the clock committee I would like to extend my appreciation to my committee Mary Ann Dodd, Donna Parker and Marr Lynn Bearden … thank you, ladies, we could not have done it without you,” Martin said. “My thanks also to Mayor Bob Freeman, City Planner Joe Hurst and Rich Rapin with Crawford Construction, your assistance was invaluable.”
Hurst said Freedom Place is on schedule to be completed in April with an official opening planned closer to Memorial Day.
Freedom Place’s groundbreaking was in July. Located adjacent to the train depot, the expansion of Veterans Park is designed to honor veterans and their families and bring more visitors downtown.
Plans call for the existing park to be redesigned as Veterans Memorial Plaza to be used as a space of reflection. The new portion of the park, Freedom Place, will serve as the entertainment and recreational venue.
A Battle Cross monument donated to the city by Chase Haynes, an Eagle Scout with Troop 45 in Van Buren, will be included in the memorial. Haynes’s statue, cast of pure American bronze, of a helmet, identification tags, inverted rifle and combat boots is meant to represent a fallen soldier.
Freedom Place will include decorative crosswalks, security fencing, expanded parking areas, vendor parking, farmers market, drinking fountain, restroom facility, outdoor pavilion, children’s play area and a Gold Star water feature.
A memorial with flags and monuments to honor the five branches of the military, as well as police, fire and first responders, will be at the entrance to the park.
Hurst said the city is planning a series of meetings to determine how the Farmers Market will operate and the rules and regulations for using other facilities in the park, including the amphitheater.
The Veterans Park expansion is being financed by a sales tax approved by voters in 2012. It is the final project funded by the tax. Others were the Van Buren Police Department, Senior Activity Center and a fourth station for the Van Buren Fire Department.