The Phelps County Development Corporation is sharing its resources to enhance Holdrege with a new attraction.
PCDC has launched a website to promote the Holdrege Veterans Memorial, which will honor veterans who served in one or more Federal services of the United States Armed Forces: Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard and National Guard.
“PCDC is hosting the website since we have the capability of lending our platform to another stand-alone website,” said Ron Tillery, PCDC’s Executive Director. “We’ve donated our time and services to help move the project forward.”
No additional cost is incurred to PCDC or the veterans’ memorial committee with the new website.
The memorial is a collaborative effort of Holdrege DAV, the City of Holdrege, Phelps County Community Foundation, Phelps County Development Corporation, Palmer Brothers Granite Co., and Holdrege Area Chamber of Commerce.
A committee comprised of representatives from these organizations led the planning and design of the memorial. The City of Holdrege has provided property for the site and will provide ongoing maintenance.
Tillery became involved in the project last year when Holdrege resident Don Dealey made a presentation to the Holdrege City Council about the proposed project. Both Dealey and Tillery are veterans and would like to see a local monument to honor area service members.
“This project enhances the community and provides recognition to those in our community who have served their country in the military so it fits PCDC’s mission to improve conditions that add to our overall appeal,” Tillery said about PCDC’s support of the project. “This memorial will serve as a place to gather, reflect and remember, and it will also be available for events like Memorial Day and Veterans Day.”
The project began with Dealey and other members of the Holdrege Disabled American Veterans. They saw that many other towns had built memorials to honor veterans, but Holdrege did not have one.
In 2019, the Holdrege Veterans Memorial Committee was formed to ensure the project’s completion. Mark Kraus IV, a Marine and co-owner of Lost Way Brewery, was selected to lead the committee.
“I’m still in the Marine Corps reserves,” Kraus said. “I’ve spent most of my life serving, whether it was in the service or my time now serving in the community. I enjoy seeing things improve and helping people, so that’s been my driving factor.”
Kraus was appointed by the committee to lead the efforts going forward.
“The DAV did amazing work to start this and put together a great idea for a plan, and now we are just trying to get it across the goal line as a committee,” Kraus said.
Through PCCF’s 2019 give2Grow event, a $5,000 grant from the Phelps County Visitor’s Committee’s improvement fund and other donations, the project already has donations of more than $35,000. However, it is estimated that at least $150,000 will be needed to build the monument. Fund-raising efforts are ongoing.
The memorial will be built on the northwest side of the South Park baseball field where it will be visible from Highway 183.
In designs created by Olsson Associates, the memorial will contain five granite monuments to list area residents who served in the five major branches of the military. The monuments face an American flag that is set on a star. Stars will be a prominent theme in the display.
Kraus said the committee is planning a community celebration and groundbreaking for the project in the fall. The City Council has already approved renaming the park to Veteran’s Memorial Park, and plans are to have an official renaming and proclamation at the groundbreaking. It is hoped the project could be completed by Memorial Day 2021.
Part of the reason for locating the veteran’s memorial in the South Park is to coincide with plans to revitalize the South Park, Kraus said.
“The City’s plan is to revitalize the park, and we can do this together,” Kraus said.
He cited other historical features in the park and said the veteran’s memorial will be the first of many changes planned for the park.
“It’s good to bring back full circle the historical nature of that park,” he said.
Tillery is already working with a representative at Wright Patterson AFB to secure an aircraft for static display in the park. The committee is also hoping to establish a bronze art display in the park.