Need spurs plans for Veterans Memorial Park addition
By Janelle Walker For The Courier-News May 19, 2012 11:20AM
Ben Henrikson (from left) and Heather Zoldak representing the Elgin Breakfast Rotary Club, Jerry Turnquist, Elinor Richoz and Mayor Dave Kaptain took part in a unveiling of the "Phase II" Friday at the Elgin Veterans Memorial Park. The Elgin Veterans Memorial Park “Phase II” Committee, in cooperation with the city of Elgin, announced its campaign “Extending the Honor” to build a Phase II- or waterfront access - to the memorial. The Elgin Breakfast Rotary Club and Elinor Richoz donated $10,000 apiece to the project. May 18, 2012 | Michael Smart~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 1, 2012 12:14PM
ELGIN — There was a time when a downtown bridge was closed during Memorial Day ceremonies so those honoring veterans could toss flowers and a wreath into the Fox River.
That wreath is to honor veterans who were buried at sea, said Jerry Turnquist, a local historian and member of the Elgin Veterans Memorial Park “Phase II” Committee.
Modern-day traffic doesn’t allow the city to close downtown bridges anymore, he said. Instead, those laying wreaths find themselves walking out on mud, or artificial turf, to toss the wreath into the river — and praying it makes it in OK.
The Veterans Memorial Park committee wants to extend the existing Veterans Memorial Park plaza to allow for a more-dignified ceremony when honoring veterans.
That second phase was kicked off on Friday — the day before Armed Forced Day — at Veterans Memorial Park just north of the Gail Borden Public Library, 270 N. Grove Ave. The second phase is to extend the existing plaza 25 to 30 feet to the west, closer to the bank of the Fox River.
However, the extended plaza will not go over or into the existing Fox River bank, explained Mark Underwood of Hitchcock Design Group, who designed the addition.
On Friday, the first two checks, totaling $20,000, were given for the effort. Between $62,000 and $67,000 will be needed to finish the park addition, Turnquist said.
One $10,000 donation was made by Arthur Richoz’s family. A World War II veteran and Purple Heart recipient, Richoz passed away “four years ago tomorrow,” said his widow, Elinor Richoz. He never lived to see the park dedicated.
The Elgin Breakfast Rotary Club also made at $10,000 donation. In addition, the club plans to provide a “Peace Pole” for the park — a marker with the words “May Peace Prevail on Earth” written in four languages, said Heather Zoldak, club president.
“This donation reflects the dedication of our club members” to remembering American veterans, she said.
They hope to have the completed plaza ready for the 2013 Memorial Day ceremony, Turnquist said.
“We are the guys here to get the money,” said Walter Porter, one of the committee members. Naming opportunities, which provide inclusion on a dedication plaque, will available for certain levels of contributions, officials said.
Members are raising money through the sale of lapel buttons and polo shirts. Pins will be available from committee members as well as Ziegler’s Ace Hardware stores on Lillian and Spring streets.
At $5 each, the lapel pins already have proven to be a successful fundraiser, Turnquist said. The committee ordered an initial run of 500 pins, and those already sold out.
Donations, which are tax deductible, may be made to the “Elgin Community Network — Phase II Fund,” P.O. Box 6520, Elgin, IL 60121. The non-profit Elgin Community Network is fiscal agent for the committee.