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Cairo reveals plans for Veterans Memorial Park

The Grand Island Independent - 2/12/2018

CAIRO - A wish that's been on Cairo's list for a few years is finally coming true.

Last week, the plans for the Cairo Veterans Memorial Park were revealed and construction is expected to begin this summer. It will be located on Highway 11, east of the Cairo Fire Hall.

The project owes thanks to the Edward VanWinkle family, who jump-started a fund created at the Cairo Community Foundation.

"The VanWinkle family shared Ed VanWinkle's dream of creating a Veterans Memorial in the village of Cairo. Ed's wife and son shared Ed's love of all things military," a statement on the Cairo Community Foundation website reads. "His hope for a veterans memorial in the village of Cairo will be assisted by a committee dedicated to creating the memorial.

"Ed was a Korean War veteran, serving in the U.S. Army from Aug. 6, 1951, to Aug. 5, 1959. The VanWinkle family is establishing a project fund through the Cairo Community Foundation to facilitate tax deductible contributions for this project. A memorial contribution in honor of Ed's dream will be made by Ed's family to start the fund."

"It was always his dream to have a veterans memorial in Cairo," said Charity Adams, who works in community and economic development for Cairo.

Adams is also on the memorial park committee. Other committee members include: Kirby VanWinkle, Don and Judy Shuda, Brandon and Marissa Robinson, Kim Wells, LaTonna Brand, Becky Grabowski and Andrew Frankforter.

Adams said Frankforter is a landscaper and designed the park.

"He took our ideas and made a whole park," Adams said.

The memorial will consist of five granite pillars mounted with a bronze emblem that represent the branches of the military. The pillars will also be engraved with pictures depicting each branch of service. The center walkway will include four granite benches and one keystone engraved with a dedication. The park will also feature a ribbon walkway landscaped with pollinator plants.

Engraved bricks, which will be purchased and dedicated to a veteran, will make up a southern wall. The committee plans to create the initial greenspace this summer. The ribbon garden will be completed first with current funds and a grant from the Harold Dunlap Fund managed by the Grand Island Community Foundation.

Planning started about a year and a half ago, Adams said. She said they're trying to sell 700 bricks to help fund the cost, find sponsorships for the benches and raise general donations. The memorial bricks can be dedicated to any veteran, regardless of their ties to Cairo.

"We don't care if you're from Tallahassee, Florida, you're welcome to be on our memorial," Adams said.

The project will cost about $200,000.

"The communities within Hall County have always supported veterans," Don Shuda said. He said veterans served the country with honor and pride. "This is a way to honor and remember (the veterans and their service and sacrifice)."

"It represents the image of the military and the image of the soldier," Don Shuda said about the memorial and the photos.

Judy Shuda said she's excited to see the empty lot transform into a veterans memorial.

"I think Cairo is going to be in the spotlight for having one of the nicest memorials around," Judy Shuda said.

Adams said she's proud to work with a community who strives to serve veterans.

Bricks are $150 each and can be purchased from committee members. For more information, contact Charity Adams at (308) 379-9119 or charity@cairocommunity.com.


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