Since January, former County Judge and retired U.S. Marine Jimmie Edwards III has taken his “loose-knit” group of friends and turned them into a well-oiled machine known as the Montgomery County Veterans Memorial Commission.
Now the MCWMC has a board of directors and renderings of the new Montgomery County Veterans Memorial Park, which will be relocated to an area near Interstate 45 and Texas 105 in Conroe from its current location along Davis Street next to the tax office downtown.
To help move the project forward, county commissioners allocated $50,000 for the relocated memorial.
“We have grown and things have moved very quickly,” Edwards told the court during budget workshops last week. “We have a lot of support.”
Precinct 1 Commissioner Mike Meador supports the memorial.
“This is amazing,” Meador said. “This has taken off like a rocket.”
Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley vowed to raise an additional $50,000 for the project.
“I’ll raise it with fundraisers,” Riley said. “I’m pretty good at doing fundraisers, I’ll get you another $50,000.”
According to Edwards, the City of Conroe donated 3.4 acres for the project and the Texas Department of Transportation is assisting with the memorial as well.
Burditt Consultants is providing its services pro bono for the project and has developed an impressive memorial to honor fallen warriors from Montgomery County.
Eric Geppelt with Burditt said the plan is to fund the new memorial with both private and public funds.
“There are many mixed scenarios,” Geppelt said. “The intent is through collaboration, we can create some synergistic relationships … to be able to realize this.”
Edwards said a group of genealogists are working to locate and verify all the names of the fallen warriors from Montgomery County. In addition, all those who served in the armed forces and the loved ones of Montgomery County residents can have their names added to the memorial. The cost to do that has not been determined.
Edwards has scheduled the decommissioning of the existing park for November. The park was built in 1976 and dedicated that same year by President Gerald Ford.
Edwards, who served as county judge from 1983-87, is no stranger to the memorial. It was Edwards who led the effort to rebuild the park in the late 1980s. At that time, the sitting Commissioners Court members, including Edwards as county judge, all donated $5,000 to rebuild the park and constructed a fountain to bear the names of the fallen military members.
Now, 20 years later, Edwards believes the best thing for the park is to move it, possibly to the Montgomery County Flag Park, where more people can visit and enjoy the memorial.
The plaques will be rebuilt in granite because the current ones made of aluminum have faded and many can no longer be read. Edwards stressed the move is not an effort to get rid of the park but to make it better.
“The park, brick by brick, pole by pole and bench by bench, will be moved to a new site,” Edwards said in a previous article.
Edwards said he would be back at future court meetings to keep the commissioners up to date on the project.
By Catherine Dominguez