Veterans committee stands by site decision Leaders say it will stay on square after VFW location proposed Monday
By PATTI SELLS, News-Telegram Feature Writer
Jan. 29, 2008 - The location of a proposed veterans memorial for downtown Sulphur Springs met some friendly opposition Monday.
Discussions about the memorial were held Monday morning at the Hopkins County Courthouse during a special work session that followed a regular meeting of the Commissioners Court.
After a presentation on parking, traffic, lighting, maintenance and many other issues was presented by Don Roundtree, chairman of the design committee for the Veterans Memorial, former Hopkins County Judge Joe Minter rose to state his friendly opposition.
Minter said he was not opposing the monument itself, but rather its selected location on the southeast corner of the downtown square.
"It's a beautiful, beautiful monument," said Minter, a veteran. "I'm not opposed to the monument at all, but I would like the committee to consider some other options."
What Minter proposed was a veterans park and museum near the local Veterans of Foreign War Post 8560 building, located off Interstate 30 on Veterans Drive. Minter said the area is close to the city, easily accessible and would provide plenty of space for such a project, including parking.
"We have five acres on Veterans Drive to put this thing," said Minter. "We could have a museum, plus ample parking, everything we need. It would provide a nice place for people to come sit and contemplate, grieve or celebrate our forefathers. It would be perfect, in my estimation."
According to Minter, statues, walls, plaques, monuments and memorials have grown redundant on the square, and with all the upcoming revitalization, he said he considers the memorial "overkill" in the downtown area.
"That's just the way I and a few others feel," Minter said.
Clyde Browning, a longtime friend of Minter, also spoke, complimenting Veterans Memorial Committee organizer Clayton McGraw for the "fantastic job" he's done, and reemphasized the opposition was only in regards to site consideration.
"We only want you to consider an alternate location," he said.
"We're not trying to stir up controversy," said Minter. "We just want to present another option, something to consider."
Roundtree countered that public meetings on the memorial have been taking place within the community for some time now, and said Minter's input would have been appreciated earlier in the process.
"These meetings have been no secret, and they've been going on for almost three years," explained McGraw, who said he feels confident in the committee's decision after many conversations and meetings with both veterans and citizens of the community. "We've had lots of input by the city and various boards. Veterans I have talked to, and their families, don't want it out by the VFW. They see it [the VFW] as a bar, and 50 percent of them are gonna want their money back."
According to both Roundtree and McGraw, other locations, including the one proposed by Minter, had been considered for the Memorial, as well as the Civic Center grounds, the Buford Park area, and several other sites.
County Commissioners Beth Wisenbaker and Don Patterson, both expressed their support of the Veterans Memorial regardless of where it ends up, and also said they did not want to get "caught in the middle."
"One thing we all agree on is that we want the very best for our veterans," said Minter.
"Veterans are important to us, and it's important to put this monument in the most prominent location in the county," said Roundtree, summing up the discussion. "I don't know of any place more prominent than downtown to honor our vets."