MENOMINEE — Menominee County Board Chair Larry Phelps had his brother and other military veterans in mind when he raised over $20,000 to enhance Mason Park. His brother Ronald Joseph Phelps died in 1967 while serving in the Vietnam War, he said.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the beautification project is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Menominee County park, located on River Drive/County Highway 581 about 3.8 miles west of the city.
Those who contributed to the park’s new veterans memorial and handicapped-accessible kayak ramp will be recognized.
“The park hadn’t had improvements for decades. I’m 66 years old and I was hanging out here when I was in high school. It hasn’t changed,” said Phelps, who would like to see a pavilion built at the park where gatherings can occur.
“The intent was to get a kayak launch out there” that those with disabilities could use in the calm backwater of the Menominee River, Phelps said. “That’s all calm water, all those waters back there,” he said.
The county contributed about $20,000 at the beginning of the two-year project. Much of the county funds went toward engineering to prepare the site for the new launch and memorial. Donors pitched in the rest.
“This is the result of good public relations because a lot of people want to do good,” Phelps said.
The new $34,000 kayak ramp is geared for people with disabilities and allows kayakers an easier entrance to the backwater of the Menominee River than the existing boat ramp at Mason Park. This backwater sits about a mile and a half upstream of the dam where the water is calm, Phelps said.
While the kayak ramp was the impetus for the project, the business community kicked in for the veterans memorial and landscaping. The veterans memorial recognizes the five branches of the military, including the National Guard.
Phelps said he wrote the words on the granite: “It is with immense gratitude that this area has been created to express recognition for the veterans of Menominee County, Michigan, who served our nation honorably and to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of our freedom. Thank you.”