CLARKS SUMMIT — Herman Johnson wants to ensure veterans are never forgotten.
That’s why the Clarks Summit councilman was heavily involved in the formation of the Clarks Summit/Abington Area Veterans Park on State Street in the borough three years ago.
“I think the biggest thing we’re trying to do, and the reason we built the veterans park, is remind our citizens and residents that these veterans gave the ultimate sacrifice,” Johnson said. “We want to honor them at all times. I don’t want to see the general public forget that part of history because once it’s forgotten, it’s gone.”
The park has been built up gradually over the years, beginning with a concrete pad, monument and stones honoring veterans from the United States Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard as well as those who were prisoners of war and are missing in action.
A $10,000 Community Re-Invest grant Clarks Summit Borough received through Lackawanna County allowed for more substantial improvements, including the construction of gazebo and the addition of two parking spaces, including one designated as handicap.
“It started with donations from the Abington area community,” Johnson said. “It’s shaping up nice and it’s something our community can say we’re giving back to our veterans.”
While the grant will cover some of the major expenses, donations are still being sought to finish the project.
Johnson and fellow Clarks Summit Councilman Patrick Williams, who are responsible for the majority of the maintenance of the park, would like to install lighted bollards along the road, new flag poles and two benches. They also plan to further beautify the park with enhanced landscaping.
Members of the Clarks Summit Borough Department of Public Works and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7069 also chip in with the upkeep of the park.
“If it wasn’t for the citizens making donations and the business people helping out this would never have come to reality,” Johnson said.
Williams also stressed the significance of the county grant toward making the additions to the park feasible.
“Mr. Johnson and I are going to go down and personally thank the commissioners, because the project probably never would have happened without their financial help,” Williams said.
According to Johnson, the municipalities of Clarks Green, Dalton, South Abington Township, Newton Township, Ransom Township along with the Abington Council of Governments have made donations to the park in the past.
Johnson added the Rotary Club of the Abingtons plan to place a library box in the park that will include magazines highlighting different veterans and wars. The club also has a garbage container in the park to help keep the area clean.
“I want people to realize this isn’t just Clarks Summit’s park,” Johnson said. “All the municipalities in the Abingtons have contributed to it.”
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage