Park Close to Completion, Dedication Date Planned

WELLSBURG – The Brooke County Veterans Memorial Park is nearly complete, and a dedication will be held on Veterans Day.

Howard Armstrong, president of the Brooke County Veterans Memorial Park Foundation, confirmed the dedication will be at 2 p.m. Nov. 11 at the park, which is beside the paddle boat pond at Brooke Hills Park.

Serving as keynote speaker will be Brooke County Prosecutor David B. Cross, whose father was killed in action during World War II. Many others have been slated to speak at the event, which also will include music.

The granite wall bearing the names of 186 local veterans who died while serving their country in military conflicts and 27 who were prisoners of war has been added to the site.

Also in place are a monument to Marine Lance Cpl. Michael J. Smith Jr., a Brooke County native who was killed in a skirmish in Iraq and inspired the park; another recognizing sponsors of $1,000 or more and members of the foundation’s board of trustees; and ledgers representing Flanders Field and Arlington Cemetery.

The two burial sites were suggested by foundation member Paul “Bud” Billiard because Flanders Field is the burial site of many Americans who died while defending France in World War I and symbolizes all American veterans who are buried abroad; while Arlington National Cemetery represents all those buried in the U.S.

Crews with Danny Hukill Contracting of Weirton built the steps, a walkway through the site and foundation under the supervision of Ernie Stucin and Charles “Poke” Beall, both members of the foundation. The business performed a significant amount of the work at no cost, said foundation leaders.

Many volunteers also were involved, installing lighting for the park and the three flagpoles, planting the trees and doing landscaping and other work.

Still to come is a bronze sculpture created by Canadian artist Tim Schmalz. The piece is 7-feet tall and 4-feet wide and will rest on a stone block at the center of the park. It’s being transported by train to Detroit and will be shipped to Brooke County by truck. Plans call for it and 267 granite pavers extending between the sculpture and the wall to be added before the dedication.