SOUTH RUSSELL — A committee is looking into establishing a veterans memorial in the village. Just where that memorial will be placed is yet to be determined. Members of the committee met Aug. 6 to continue discussions and the group will meet again at 9 a.m. Sept. 9 at Village Hall.
In 2015 a flag and plaque were put in place by former Councilwoman Kathy O’Donnell and her husband Bill at the southwest corner of Chillicothe (Route 306) and Bell roads.
The possible locations discussed last week included that corner site, the new South Russell Cemetery, at the front of Village Hall or at the South Russell Village Park. Members talked about a United States flag surrounded by the flags of the five different military services and possibly a POW flag.
Village Mayor Bill Koons said he would like to meet again in September and then go to Village Council with the committee’s suggestions on Oct. 28.
Mayor Koons said when the idea is presented to council, the committee should have all the pictures and drawings in hand so a decision could be made on that date.
South Russell Street Commissioner Darrell Johnson took photos of different veterans’ displays for the committee including in Newbury and at the Munn Road Cemetery.
Councilman Gerald Canton said the idea of a memorial at the village park was brought up at a park committee meeting. There are plans to expand the parking lot there and improve the restrooms. “The park might be a good alternative,” he said.
The corner of Bell and Chillicothe roads has a lot of traffic, and drivers should keep their eyes on the road, he noted.
Robin Rood suggested the cemetery or Village Hall as good locations. Parks are busy and may not be appropriate for the memorial, she said, making Village Hall a more meditative setting.
Eric Kimball, a resident, Marine veteran and member of the village police department, said the village needs community feedback.
“The cemetery has my vote,” Mr. Kimball said, adding that Village Hall may have water run-off issues.
Village Councilwoman Cindy Nairn said there are 7.2 acres at the cemetery. She agrees with Mrs. Rood that the park is quite active and the veterans’ memorial should be in a more quiet area where people can reflect.
Councilman Mark Porter said the corner is a good place to put a memorial and it is set up for that already.
Veteran Charlie McGibony said he doesn’t think the corner is a good idea because people will just drive by and not notice the site. As to the cemetery, he said he does not have a reason to go there and wouldn’t stop there for a memorial. He would be inclined to go to the community park, he said.
Jo Royer, whose father was a Navy veteran, said it is important to get kids to understand that veterans were ultimately the first responders. It would be good for the kids to visit the memorial and to read and learn about them, she added.
Dr. Mark Rood, a physician with a family practice in the village as well as a resident, suggested they might provide a game for the kids, with them reading about the flags and the military branches.
Mayor Koons said he liked the idea of interaction with the young people. He noted it could be done electronically, and everyone could read about those who served and their family members. He said he liked the community park for the memorial because there are people there almost all the time.
Ralph Burr, a veteran, said the memorial should be where one can easily walk to it. There is so much space at the community park, including parking, and an appropriate place could be selected, he said.
The village could sell stones with names on them for the walkways, he added.
In 2020, Mr. Canton suggested that there could be a contest in which children could make a flag for the village’s 100th anniversary.
There are about 3 acres in the park where the memorial could be located, according to Councilman Porter. It could be seen from the road and would have easy access.
Mrs. Rood, in supporting a location at Village Hall for the memorial, noted there is parking and the area could be landscaped. It would be very visible and the issue of storm water flowing through there could be fixed, she said. There could be paths, benches and signs.
Mrs. Nairn agreed with Village Hall as a site. The 3 ½ acres at the park between the playground and the pavilion is not much space. She also noted that the Western Reserve Land Conservancy has conservation restrictions at the park.
Bob Royer, a resident and veteran who serve in the Navy with two terms in Vietnam, said he believes the Village Park is the place to put the memorial. It already draws people with their children who can learn about the military at the memorial. The land conservancy is likely to approve a portion of the land in the park for the memorial, he added.