WARNER ROBINS -- This city, tied so inexorably to the military, is about to see the first of its efforts to honor veterans take flight.
By the end of the month, Warner Robins plans to install an F-15 fighter jet at a corner of property near City Hall, while leaving other room for a much larger memorial to veterans.
The City Council voted Monday night to spend as much as $15,000 to build a lighted concrete pad for the jet and move it there. There’s just enough room to position the F-15, a storied fighter maintained at Robins Air Force Base, on a corner of the City Hall lot. That location also leaves enough room for a larger plan to honor veterans in the area, where an aging fountain is now located.
After much debate, the city earlier moved a T-33 from the front of the recreation department on Watson Boulevard to a location on Interstate 75. Councilman Chuck Shaheen, who, as mayor, resisted efforts to place the much-larger F-15 along the highway, suggested the City Council should place the F-15 in front of the recreation department. No one responded Monday.
However, City Council members united informally to show support for the general concept of the larger veterans monument at City Hall. No formal vote on a plan or funding appropriation has taken place. There are three related proposals ranging from about $126,000 to about $188,000 for the location.
Such work likely would be done in conjunction with a renovation of City Hall itself, which was originally planned at $4.7 million. The monument work and the City Hall renovation are to be funded from a special purpose local option sales tax. SPLOST receipts have been coming in about 15 percent below projections, Mayor Randy Toms said.
Frank Ray was one of the residents who spoke in favor of the proposal for a veterans memorial. He told reporters later, “But for this base, this town’d be a ghost town. ... If it wasn’t for our veterans, we wouldn’t have a town. We wouldn’t have a country.”
Ray said earlier talks about monuments to veterans started around 1977.
City Council members are also discussing a monument to Vietnam veterans, which would be placed on a road named for Vietnam Veterans close to a planned welcome center. The sites are close to Interstate 75 and Russell Parkway.
Toms also asked whether any monument to veterans should be planned for a training center focused on veterans that is to be built close to Russell Parkway and Ga. 247.
To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.