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New Bethlehem Veterans Park Memorial Location Selected; Groundbreaking to Take Place in 2019
“If we would have continued to try to find the perfect spot, you and I both would have been six feet under before it was ever found.”
Those were the words of Ray Ishman, a twenty-year veteran of the United States Air Force, as he explained to exploreClarion that the idea of a Veterans Park in New Bethlehem has been discussed for nearly a decade.
Ishman said it was time to stop talking and start working.
“After aggressively searching for a location that would suit our needs, we have ultimately chosen a piece of property next to the Keck Building. If you are standing on the trail facing the Keck Building, the park will be in the empty lot to the left of the building.”
Ishman believes that the park will serve more than just the purpose of celebrating Redbank Valley area veterans.
“I believe it will do much to beautify that section of our community.”
While Ishman noted that the planning for the park has been in the works for six to seven years, planning for the park began to accelerate in August when public meetings began to be held to outline the project and gauge community interest. Ishman said that those meetings were fruitful as approximately thirty people attended each meeting.
Ishman explained that the park will feature a pentagon island displaying the American Flag, Pennsylvania flag, and POW/MIA flag. Coming off of each edge of the pentagon island will be a black granite marker for each branch of the United States military that will serve to honor veterans from all wars.
In addition to the flags and markers, Ishman said that there will also be benches to allow for enjoyment of the new park.
As far as honoring individual veterans go, Ishman explained that a familiar procedure will be followed.
“We will have the same philosophy as the banners that we hang in town. Anyone from the Redbank Valley area who served or who is currently serving will have the opportunity to have a granite brick purchased in their honor to be placed at the park. This is one of the ways we plan on raising the funds needed to complete the park.”
In addition to the bricks, Ishman said that park organizers will begin selling air fresheners next month to help raise additional funds for the park. The air fresheners, which will be sponsored by local businesses, will feature a drawing of the park.
“While we don’t want to overburden local businesses and government officials, we are hopeful that some private donations will be able to be secured as well in addition to the bricks and air fresheners,” said Ishman.
Ishman hopes that as funds begin to be secured, the groundbreaking of the park will be able to take place in the spring of 2019.
The park committee will meet on December 20th at Redbank Valley Public Library at 7:00 to finalize the design and send the model out for bids. Anyone who is interested in contributing ideas or discussions for the final design are encouraged to attend.
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