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The Town of McCormick broke ground on the McCormick Veterans Memorial Park last week, celebrating the focal point of its latest community development project.

McCormick town and county officials were joined at the ceremony by state legislators, local veterans and veteran supporters at the stage behind the McCormick Arts Council at the Keturah (MACK).

“This day has been a long time coming,” McCormick Mayor Roy Smith said. “There have been a lot of people who have worked tirelessly to make this day possible.”

The $900,500 project to build the plaza, streetscape and expand parking behind Town Hall will be funded through a $750,000 Community Development Block Grant and a local match provided by the Town of McCormick.

The Town of McCormick Streetscape Phase II project is scheduled to begin construction Jan. 16, 2023. Upper Savannah’s community development staff prepared and submitted the grant application and attended the ceremony.

The Town is funding the military seals, flag poles and other specific veterans related items. CDBG funding is essentially paying for a retaining wall, drainage, and concrete streetscape type work within the veteran’s memorial area.

CDBG funding also includes work on Augusta Street in front of Town Hall to include a speed table (large speed bump) as well as a parking area behind Town Hall that will run along the side of the fire department.

Sidewalks will be redone in the project area. Some spaces will be redone directly on Augusta Street, but the majority will be removed for pedestrian safety. The project will incorporate ADA accessibility and parking.

The Town of McCormick Streetscape CDBG project Phase I was completed in 2020, including upgrading curb and guttering, sidewalks and crosswalks to meet ADA requirements, and landscaping.

“When we started this (Phase II) project, we knew it was going to need community support to get it done,” Smith said. “The McCormick veteran’s park will be a tribute to all veterans — past, present, future — who serve or will serve in the U.S. armed forces, and their families.”

“I really believe every community ought to have a veteran’s park,” Senator Shane Massey said. “It’s a place that a community can have pride in.”

“We all cherish and love this nation. We are standing on hallowed ground,” Senator Billy Garrett said.

“Men and women have put their lives on the line to protect the freedoms that we all enjoy,” McCormick County Council Chairman Charles Jennings said. “On this day, we want to recognize their dedication and show our appreciation by honoring them with this veteran’s park.”

Rett Harbison, landscape architect with Johnson, Laschober & Associates, pointed out a creative feature that will be included in the park. “Different military branches will be listed in morse code in brick pavers (with pamphlets at town hall to help teach the code system). It’s always a great honor to recognize our veterans.”

David McGhee of SITEC Construction Company and a Navy veteran, said, “please be patient with us. We are going to make it ugly. Just like baking a cake in the kitchen, it gets ugly before it gets pretty. My job is to make it ugly, make it pretty, and then put the icing on the cake. We are excited to be a part of the project.” McCormick Town Councilman Arthur Banks, who was part of the veteran’s memorial park committee, added, “I was so happy when Mayor Smith called me and asked me to be a part of this committee, for I have longed for something to honor our veterans here in McCormick.”