CONEJOS — Conejos County veterans haven’t had a monument since 1945 and they will have an impressive one near the end of August, thanks to cooperation from the town of Antonito, Conejos County government and area residents.
The Conejos Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) and Land Use Administrator Linda De Herrera have road signs in stock and plans are afoot to make the memorial a reality, with christening set at 10 a.m. Friday, Aug. 25.
County Road G6 has been renamed Veterans Boulevard and will be lined with trees remembering county veterans.
The road leads from U.S. 285 to County Road 13 to the county courthouse and Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church and is a special project area for Veterans Blvd. of Conejos County, a non-profit organization formed in April of this year.
Conejos County Veterans Service Officer told the BOCC Aug. 3 that trees are being planted daily and it is hoped at least 80 trees will be planted by season’s end.
Gallardo and veteran Jerrod Garcia are spearheading the project and emphasize it is a veterans project, not a county project, though the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) had been cooperating from day one.
The purpose of that change is to honor all veterans who reside in Conejos County, and “this grand and colossal monument is to express acknowledgement for their service.”
As planned, the tree-lined boulevard would begin with an open gate wall at the entrance off U.S. 285 and culminate at a roundabout with markers honoring each branch of the U.S. Military, along with a small tract of land for events, Gallardo said.
The boulevard will eventually be lined by some 200 American Red Maple, October Glory Red Maple and Autumn Blaze Maple trees, beautiful in the spring and spectacular in the fall. Eighty trees have been adopted so far and the committee welcomes more veterans and families to adopt trees.
As planned, the trees will create a panorama honoring the veterans, with some of the county’s most historic structures at the west end.
Since municipal water was extended to Guadalupe this summer, the city of Antonito donated two water taps, but the non-profit corporation will pay for the water. So far this season, the monthly bill has been around $75 to water the newly planted trees.
A workday to prepare the trees and general area for the christening will be held at 9 a.m. Aug. 19.
The county will provide tools and some workers, while more volunteers are needed, especially persons with weed-eaters and lawn mowers.
Gallardo told the BOCC the memorial won’t happen right away, but “four to five years from now, it’s going to be nice.”
Eventually, a monument with the names of county veterans will be installed, along with the names of veterans next to the trees.
The tree planting, he said, is going smoothly. “We’ve got it down to a science.”
“The veterans of Conejos County deserve the greatest and utmost respect and acknowledgement for their service to our country,” Gallardo noted.
Families will be able to sponsor trees dedicated to their veterans, with a small plaque with the veteran’s name at the base of each tree.
The group has been talking with local tree expert Marilyn Loser about the choice of trees and how they can be planted, the North River Road Greenhouse at Alamosa is providing stock and assistance while volunteers are planting the trees.
Phone Gallardo at 376-6725 for more information or to volunteer.