The Engelstad Foundation has donated $250,000 to the Grand Forks Veterans Memorial Park, marking the second large donation announcement this month.
The donation was given in September, said Jasen Woehrle, senior vice president of The Firm Public Relations and Marketing in Las Vegas. The announcement comes a week after the donation of more than $90,000 by Rydell Auto Center of Grand Forks.
In a statement provided by Woehrle, Kris Engelstad McGarry, who heads the foundation, said about the gift, "I was surprised that there wasn't a veterans memorial already in the area. My very favorite uncle (married to my dad's sister) was a veteran.
"The Engelstad Foundation is pleased to support the Grand Forks Veterans Memorial Park to honor the legacy of all of our local heroes who have served our country."
The uncle she is referring to is David Dooley, Grand Forks, Woehrle said.
The Grand Forks Veterans Memorial Park, located on a six-acre site near the roundabout at 24th Avenue South and 34th Street north of Columbia Mall, is meant to honor veterans for their service in all U.S. wars and conflicts, said Al Palmer, chair of the GFVMP board of directors.
Earlier this month, Rydell Auto Center of Grand Forks contributed $93,683 in support of the park. The gift comprises the total proceeds from the auto center's 13th Annual Car and Bike Show in September.
The funds will be used to purchase five granite obelisks representing the five branches of the military, Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard.
"The Rydell family has been very generous in their donation to the Grand Forks Veterans Memorial Park," Palmer said. "Over the past 13 years that they've held the car show, they've given all of their proceeds to local charities, and have been strong supporters of our community."
About the Engelstad Foundation gift, Palmer said, "The Engelstad family has been a strong supporter of UND and the city of Grand Forks, and a strong supporter of the military.
"Their $250,000 gift is another example of their support for our military. It doesn't put us over the top (of the campaign goal), but it brings us much closer to the finish line," he said. "We are very grateful for their generosity."
The memorial park's board needs to raise $1.2 million, Palmer said, "and we're about halfway there."
The park is expected to be completed in 2019, "around Labor Day or somewhere in the September timeframe," Palmer said.
Those who wish to symbolically honor a veteran in the memorial park can purchase a 30-pound granite block for $200, Palmer said. The 8-by-12-inch block can be inscribed with up to 18 characters on each line, with a maximum of four lines.
About 350 blocks have been sold, he said.
"We could put another 1,000 or more out there," he said.
Other features of the park include a 40-foot-long memorial wall, with laser-etched images depicting the American veterans' role in wars. It also will include military equipment, and shelters and benches for meditation and reflection.
Discussion of the importance of such a park, and the movement toward developing one, began about eight years ago, according to the memorial park's website.
Grand Forks is one of a few cities in the state that does not have a veterans memorial park, where veterans can gather to conduct Memorial Day and Veterans Day services, or celebrate Independence Day or the anniversary dates of service branches.
The project, moved forward by community philanthropy, is supported by the Grand Forks Park District, the Grand Forks Parks and Recreation Foundation, the Red River Valley Motorcyclists, the city of Grand Forks and local veterans.
For information on purchasing a Memorial Stone, contact Dennis Heap, (701) 791-1449.
For more information on the memorial park or to donate, call Palmer at (701) 317-2284 or go to www.gfvetspark.org.