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Montgomery County War Memorial Renovations
Call for Information on Veterans for Memorial
Jean Smoorenburg
 

Kenny Smith, a Conroe resident,  has been on a crusade to refurbish the Montgomery County War Memorial for the past year. I heard him speak several weeks ago about his efforts. In addition to upgrading and revitalizing the war memorial itself, he would like to add any information you our readers may have, biographical and/or genealogical or otherwise, that gives us an insight into the lives of the veterans with Montgomery County connections who gave their lives to ensure our freedom. If you have any additional information regarding these veterans, birth, death, rank, hobbies, burial, genealogical, biographical, etc., please contact Jean Smoorenburg. I will pass the info onto Kenny Smith (who does not have any email) and post your info on this site.

 

July 2, 2008, 12:38PM
Renovation efforts under way for Memorial Park
Construction on new plaza ready to start at site that honors county’s veterans
 

Montgomery County War Memorial Park

Montgomery County War Memorial Park is located in downtown Conroe on Texas 105 in front of the Montgomery County Tax Office. The Veteran’s Park, as it is commonly called, was dedicated April 29, 1976 by Gerald Ford, President of the United States, in memory of those who served our country.
 
The Veterans of Foreign War, Montgomery County Democratic Party, The Patriotic and Historical Society as well as various other organizations, hosts ceremonies on Memorial Day each year commemorating fallen soldiers of Montgomery County
Source: Montgomery County Parks Department
 
Demolition is expected to begin after July 4 on the fountain at Montgomery County War Memorial Park to make way for a plaza honoring the county’s fallen soldiers.
 
It is the first phase of the rebirth of the monument, dedicated in 1976 to honor those killed in action during time of war. It recognizes 164 men and women from Montgomery County who gave their lives in service from World War I to the ongoing war in Iraq.
 
“It is beautiful and it is great,” said Precinct 1 Commissioner Mike Meador. “It pays proper respect for the people we are building it for.”
 
The project, the idea of local businessman Kenny Smith, is being funded by the county and through donations. Another fundraiser, most likely a motorcycle rally, is planned later this month to continue the renovation of the park.
 
The first phase of the project will remove the fountain and replace it with a plaza featuring Texas granite markers for each soldier. The fountain, which suffered an underground leak, is inoperable and would soak up the entire budget to repair.
 
“The new design is pretty much maintenance free,” Meador said.
 
In addition to the markers, the plaza will be adorned with an American flag, Texas flag and Prisoner of War flag. It also will include an etching of an eternal flame.
 
The park also features granite benches for each branch of the armed forces.
 
The first phase will also include paths with pavers as well as landscaping. The design was provided by Burditt and Associates.
 
The monument sits on less than a quarter acre in the center of downtown, in front of the Montgomery County Tax Office at 400 N. San Jacinto. It is frequently used by veteran’s groups for ceremonies, especially for Veteran’s Day and Flag Day, said Corliss O’Shaughnessy, director of parks for Montgomery County.
 
The park is operated by Montgomery County, which dedicated $60,000 for its renovation. The group headed by Kenny Smith has raised $12,000 in donations towards the new park and hopes to increase that by $10,000 at the next fundraiser. He asked that any additional donations be made to Schmidt Memorial at 1305 N. Frazier to defray the cost of the granite.
 
Aluminum plaques will be mounted on the granite block and include the name, rank, branch of services and birth and death dates of all county residents killed in action. It will include local veterans who died in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Desert Storm, the Iraq War and during action in Lebanon.

Reprint from the Houston Chronicle
http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/nb/woodlands/faces/5867912.html

Update from The Courier on the
New Design of the Park
 

Memorial in the making
By Brad Meyer
Courier staff
05/01/2008
 
The county’s aging memorial to fallen soldiers will soon undergo a dramatic transformation, reflecting the support of area veterans, county officials and concerned citizens.
 
The new design for revitalization of Montgomery County War Memorial Park, located at Davis and San Jacinto streets in downtown Conroe, reflects a simple, elegant tribute to county military personnel who have died in the service of their country.
 
“The plan calls for removal of the water fountain that has never worked properly,” said Corliss O’Shaughnessy, Montgomery County Parks Director. “We’ll maintain the Lone Star theme and showcase the plaques with the names of fallen soldiers.”
 
While a number of upgrades have been suggested by area veterans and citizen groups, the county will focus on replacing the broken water fountain and the core park area, according to O’Shaughnessy.
 
“County commissioners donated $60,000 to the project earlier in the year,” she said. “We will focus on upgrades for which we have funding.”
 
The design by landscape architect Diana Wilson, of Burditt Associates in Conroe, has a symbolic eternal flame design at the center of an expansive Lone Star made of pavers. An actual flame was considered but ruled out by Precinct 1 Commissioner Mike Meador, according to O’Shaughnessy.
 
“There are a lot of maintenance and liability issues associated with an open flame,” said O’Shaughnessy. “The county’s goal is to pay tribute, not create a potential hazard.”
 
Design specifications from Burditt Associates will be used for open bidding on the project, said O’Shaughnessy. She hopes demolition of the fountain will begin by the end of May.
 
The poor condition of the park came to public attention through the individual effort of Kenny Smith, a U.S. Army veteran who spearheaded an effort to clean up the grounds and restore dignity to the 30-year-old park.
 
Smith directs a volunteer effort to clean the park weekly and has paid for new flags and other upgrades from his own pocket as well as funding received from private donations. New granite benches, representing each branch of American military service, also have been added to replace cracked and broken concrete benches.
 
“The design we originally came up with for the park was estimated to cost around $78,000,” said Smith. “We’d like to have the whole park be upgraded and landscaped.
 
County officials share Smith’s sentiment, but O’Shaughnessy said they are focusing on what they can accomplish with confirmed funding, not speculation or wishful thinking.
“A number of individuals and groups have expressed interest in fundraising for the project,” she said. “But to date, we have not had any monies actually donated from outside sources.”
Several design ideas have also been suggested by area residents, but O’Shaughnessy pointed out that nothing can be installed or added to county property without prior authorization and approval.
 
While county officials welcome public input, taxpayers are ultimately responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the park. The initial design and any subsequent enhancements are subject to approval by Montgomery County Commissioners Court.
 
“We’re fortunate to have a nice park in the downtown area of Conroe,” added O’Shaughnessy. “We are committed to making the park something residents can be proud of.”

Brad Meyer can be reached at bmeyer@hcnonline.com
©Houston Community Newspapers Online 2008

Montgomery County Memorial Park – March 2008
Photos by Jean Smoorenburg


Montgomery County War Memorial Park


Montgomery County War Memorial


One of the New Benches in the Park
 

If you have any additional Information to add about these brave soldiers from Montgomery County,  please contact Jean Smoorenburg, and I'll have your information.
 

The following article appeared in the Conroe Courier on
January 30, 2008 regarding Kenny Smith's efforts:
 

Commissioners Commit $60,000 to Memorial Park

By Brad Meyer, Conroe Courier staff,  01/30/2008
 

A Conroe veteran's one-man battle to restore dignity to the county's sole park dedicated to fallen soldiers took a major step forward when county commissioners announced they would join the campaign.
 

Precinct 1 Commissioner Mike Meador announced Monday in Commissioners Court that the county will donate $60,000 to the grassroots effort to upgrade and revitalize Montgomery War Memorial Park.
 

"I've always been pleased with the support county officials have given," said Kenny Smith, the U.S. Army 101st Airborne Division veteran who has spearheaded the campaign. "This will have a major impact on helping us achieve our goals."
 

Smith began working at the 30-year-old park, located at the corner of Davis and San Jacinto in downtown Conroe, nearly a year ago when he noticed it was overgrown with weeds and falling into disrepair. The American flag on the monument was worn, the concrete benches were falling apart and plaques honoring fallen soldiers were missing.
 

"I felt obligated to get involved and try to make a difference," Smith said of his early efforts. "I contacted county officials and told them I wanted to volunteer to help clean the grounds and maintain the park."
 

Donating his time and paying for supplies out of his own pocket, Smith's efforts attracted the interest and support of community residents, organizations and elected officials.
 

"We're very appreciative of Kenny's efforts," said Kay Lee, Montgomery County Veterans Services officer. "Local veterans groups appreciate his commitment to honoring Montgomery County soldiers killed in action."
 

Support for Smith's campaign includes volunteers who join him in weekly cleaning of the grounds and contributions to help restore the park. Donations have allowed Smith to install new granite benches honoring all branches of the U.S. military and update the plaques to include the names of all soldiers killed in the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
 

Earlier this month, Smith and his coalition of supporting individuals and organizations unveiled plans to completely renovate and landscape the once-forgotten park. He hoped county officials would support the project, but was prepared to continue soliciting donations.
 

"I met with Commissioner Meador on Thursday and he asked me to appear at Commissioners Court on Monday," said Smith. "I had no idea they be as supportive as they were."
 

While the $60,000 contribution must be formally approved by commissioners, plans are already being developed to control the funding through county agencies, according to Corliss O'Shaughnessy, Montgomery County Parks director.
 

"We support all the efforts to restore the park," she said. "But the county maintains control and responsibility for how funds are dispersed."
 

The contribution will go a long way toward realizing the goal to revitalize the park, according to Smith, but it won't cover all of the planned renovations. Additional donations will be sought to fix the water fountain that has never worked properly and complete the elaborate landscaping effort.
 

"There's a lot of work to be done," Smith acknowledged, "but the support of county commissioners means we can show residents some real progress in the near future."
 

Brad Meyer can be reached at bmeyer@hcnonline.com

©Houston Community Newspapers Online 2008
 

Here are the names of the Veterans with
Montgomery County Connections
that Died in Service to our Country:
 

Veterans List
 

Additional Information for Veterans

 

 

Home Top | World War I | World War II Army & Air Force Casualties | |World War I Letter Home |A Moving Tribute |
|Montgomery County in WWI |
|World War II Navy,  Marine Corps, Coast Guard Casualties |
|Kenny Smith Passes Away |

| Former County Judge hopes to move war memorial park |


 

 

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Page Modified: 23 January 2017