News From Terre Haute, Indiana

June 13, 2013

Emergency response agencies want memorial garden

Sue Loughlin
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Vigo County public safety and emergency response agencies would like to have a memorial garden dedicated to all those who serve in public safety and those who have lost their lives.

Dorene Hojnicki, director of the Vigo County Emergency Management Agency, told the Terre Haute Parks Board Wednesday that those involved would like to locate such a memorial site at Deming Park.

The Terre Haute Fire and Police Museum is limited to a few hours on Sundays from May through September each year, she said.

The memorial would honor not only fire, police and sheriff’s department personnel, but all other emergency responders and public safety volunteers.

Public safety volunteers include those with volunteer fire departments, sheriff’s department reserve deputies, Amateur Radio Emergency Services, Disaster Animal Response Teams and others.

By having it located at a park, the memorial site would be a place where family and friends could reflect and remember, Hojnicki said. People could go anytime, all year.

Those involved will seek private donations for the memorial site. “We’re not asking the parks department to fund anything,” she said. They also will maintain the site.

The goal is to start small, with three trees, mulch, paving stones and a bench — but to have a site that allows for future expansion. In the future, a goal would be to have a memorial stone column.

“We’ve been talking about this for quite some time,” Hojnicki said after she spoke to the parks board. “We’ve talked to different agencies” and all support the idea.

Eddie Bird, parks superintendent, asked if the public safety officials had considered any other parks. Deming “is really starting to get packed in with everything,” he said after the meeting.

“We need to find a good location,” Bird said. He told Hojnicki, “We’ll be in touch.”

Parks officials support the memorial garden, but, “I might suggest some other parks,” he said after the meeting.

In a separate matter, Bird said that some of the city’s trails are starting to show their age and develop cracks. The department wants to seal cracks and sealcoat a three-mile stretch of the Heritage Trail extending from Twiggs to the Heritage Trail apartments.

The board gave permission for the department to purchase materials from an Indianapolis area company. “They are letting us use their equipment to apply the coating,” Bird said after the meeting.

The cost is about $14,000, but the company will buy back materials the city doesn’t use, he said.

Bird told the board it’s important to deal with the issues now to avoid more damage that would require replacing the blacktop, which would be much more expensive.

 Bird provided an update on the Deming pool, which has been closed for repair work. The pool has water in it but park officials can’t put chemicals in yet; the pool sealant has to cure.

Work also is being completed on handicapped-accessible restrooms.

The goal is to open the pool on or around Monday, June 24, and Bird suggested to the board that the opening day be free of charge “just because we didn’t open when we normally do — as a thank you to the public for being patient with us.”

Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.