A large crowd gathered downtown at 11 a.m. Tuesday to celebrate the Fourth of July with the opening of the Walter Turnbow Park and unveiling of the Fallen Soldiers Memorial.
The park is located along the Razorback Greenway and connected to the recently uncapped portion of Spring Creek, which had not seen daylight in decades. It’s all part of the changes in the area pushed forward by the Downtown Springdale Alliance
Turnbow was an outspoken advocate of Downtown Springdale in the early stages of the alliance, Mayor Doug Sprouse said.
“I really believe Walter’s involvement helped bring a lot of different factions in Springdale together to make this downtown revitalization a reality,” Sprouse said. “When he is passionate about something, he won’t let you go. I appreciate him so much.”
U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., also spoke and said that “nobody represents any better the definition of a giver than Mr. Turnbow.”
Turnbow is a long-serving member of the Springdale Industrial Commission and the Springdale Public Facilities Board. He has served on the Beaver Water District Board, Springdale Water and Sewer Commission, the school board, the Care Foundation, the Rotary Club of Springdale and the Arkansas State Board of Education.
“What I like about Springdale is the opportunities it has given me over the past 70 years. It has given me a good place to live and a good place to raise my kids and to educate them,” Turnbow said to the crowd. “It’s not what I’ve done for Springdale; it’s what it’s done for me and other people here.”
Turnbow’s humility has not stopped him from getting things done and having hand in most of the city’s economic development.
“He is a great, great man,” said Alan Fortenberry, chief executive officer of Beaver Water District, who attended the park’s opening. “He is very humble, but he can get things done. He is one of the shakers and movers of Springdale.”
The Walton Family Foundation contributed $2 million to the completion of the park. After dealing with some issues with the original contractor, Sprouse said, the park was completed by Milestone Construction.
From Turnbow Park, the crowd walked across Johnson Avenue to Shiloh Memorial Park to see the hard work of one dedicated Eagle Scout candidate and history lover, Hogan Maestri.
The Fallen Soldiers Memorial features the 56 names of soldiers from Springdale who have died in battle since World War I. Most of the soldiers listed fought in World War II, totaling 42. Each soldier’s name was read aloud by members of Boy Scout Troop 777.
Maestri first had the idea after visiting the Vietnam Memorial in Washington a few years ago, he said. When it was time to complete his Eagle Scout project, he spent close to 40 hours sifting through government records, newspaper and town archives and online research to find the names of the soldiers.
“I’ve been a part of a lot of Eagle projects, and this is by far the most ambitious,” said Bryon Taylor, Scout master and veteran. “It’s going to stand the test of time.”
Maestri raised money from GoFundMe, donations from Northwest Arkansas businesses and organizations.
“This is a great thing that this young man has done,” veteran Tom Chastain said. “The city has long waited for something like this to really show appreciation to veterans. He went out here and made it happen.”
Sprouse said “this is a project that stands on its own” and the city is still open to ideas for other memorials for the future.
NW News on 07/05/2017