Veterans Honor Park supporters break ground

VETERANS HONOR PARK supporters and project organizers held a ground-breaking ceremony on Wednesday in south Madison where the park is planned. The ceremony participants included (left) Skip Martin, VFW Post 2638 commander; Sue and Jerry Larsen, donors of the honor park land; Dan Fritz, American Legion Post 25 first vice commander; and Roy Lindsay, an American Legion and VFW project facilitator. Paul Hansen (in background), a park project organizer, served as the ceremony's color bearer.

Workers recently cleared the lot of land where organizers are planning to construct a Veterans Honor Park along S. Washington Ave. in Madison, and the project's organizers held a ground-breaking ceremony on Wednesday that provided the opportunity to announce plans for additional work at the site.

To start construction, work crews will next add gravel and additional soil to the lot's base -- raising its center -- and perform some packing to provide a stable foundation for walkways, stone memorial walls and markers.

Danny Frisby-Griffin, a local VFW project organizer, pointed out the piles of soil already deposited on the park land and ready for use. He credited Gary Reinicke of Madison for outlining the park's future features on the topsoil.

Frisby-Griffin, who emceed the ceremony, referred to the markings on the soil surface where construction workers will lay down concrete for Honor Paths and base material for granite markers and walls.

Frisby-Griffin said the project's supporters and contractors plan to have dirt work and concrete installation performed this summer.

"And we can report, as of the end of May, that our contributions for building the park are more than $240,000," Frisby-Griffin said.

He also reported that families and other interested persons had provided 449 names of veterans they want to have memorialized on the Honor Paths. Frisby-Griffin said the total number of names had filled one Honor Path memorial, requiring that organizers start plans to construct a second memorial path.

For the veterans park, military service personnel, who have served in all U.S. military branches in peacetime and during wars, will have their names etched into black granite walls displayed in the park.

About two dozen persons attended Wednesday's ground-breaking event, including Casey Crabtree, Dist. 8 state senator; Deb Reinicke, Lake County commissioner; Jose'-Marie Griffiths, Dakota State University president; Sgt. Chance Ragsdale, S.D. National Guard; Eric Hortness, Greater Madison Area Chamber of Commerce executive director; and local business owners Gary Reinicke and Roy Lindsay.