The Hot Springs Village Veterans Memorial is now closing in on 15 years old and as things age, they need repair. The Voice met with Memorial Foundation board president Keith Keck last week to hear more about the future of the memorial.
Keck said a few years ago the foundation received a grant from the Walton Family Foundation and that money has been used over the years for maintenance matters. “When that’s exhausted, what other steps do we need to take?” said Keck.
Cement areas are cracking and as the veteran population in the Village has aged, volunteering to do the continuous gardening-like work has lessened. Keck said 10 years ago when a work day was organized, plenty of vets came out to help spread mulch, power wash, trim and whatever else was needed. Now, that’s not the case. Fewer and fewer are able to contribute to the work days.
To raise funds, Keck announced an upcoming fundraiser called, “Rock the Memorial.” The money donated to this cause will be used to replace the mulch areas with rock and thus cut back on the hours of maintenance needed each month.
Beginning right after Labor Day, up until Veterans Day (Nov. 11), people will have the opportunity to donate to this worthy cause. Keck said the plan is to include recognition of the event at the Veterans Day ceremonies.
To donate, send your check to HSV Veterans Memorial Foundation, P.O. Box 8644, Hot Springs Village, AR, 71910-8644. In the memo line please write Rock the Memorial.
Veterans Memorial history tells us that it was 2004 when the Hot Springs Village Rotary Club was giving thought to a project to commemorate Rotary’s 100th anniversary. An idea arose after hearing the Village had the highest number of veterans per capita than any other Arkansas community, according to 2000 Federal census data. From there the work began to erect a veteran’s memorial.
Retired Army Major General Tom Arwood and retired Air Force Colonel Bob Smith talked with retired Air Force Tech Sergeant Ken Seeley about building a memorial.
The veterans met with several organizations and came up with four that were ready to step up to the plate and get involved. Local chapters of Rotary, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Military Officers Association of America all said they were on board and in Feb. 2004 the Property Owners Association board of directors approved the location and work began.
As for the design, it was decided the community should have a say and a committee to look at the possibilities was formed. Twenty-six entries came forth, 6 from professional architects.
Seeley reviewed the input and came up with a design, later telling Smith it was the design he’d started with before asking for suggestions.
Other committees were formed to look at funding possibilities as Seeley and others went out selling memorial paving bricks. Arwood sought out major contributors.
The estimated cost to construct the memorial was estimated at $159,000, which later increased to $200,000 when costs were finalized. In just four months Arwood and his committee raised $257,000. “What we achieved in terms of time and quality could not have happened without the Village,” Arwood told the Voice in 2010.
Construction began in early 2004 with Hill and Cox as general contractors and Bill Wiedower as architect. Seeley oversaw the construction which covered approximately 12 months.
The special eagle and globe seen at the memorial on DeSoto Boulevard was to cost $70,000, but Seeley and artist Mike Curtis negotiated and settled on a price tag of $35,000.
Then the Hot Springs Village Men’s Garden Club stepped up and designed the landscaping. The POA owns the land and shares the cost of electricity, water and insurance and was a strong supporter of the undertaking. They will soon begin helping with maintenance work. On Veteran’s Day 2004 the memorial became a reality, doing so without incurring a penny of debt.