OTTUMWA — An artist is winding his way through Iowa's 99 counties creating memorials honoring veterans, and he will land in Ottumwa next year.
Ray "Bubba" Sorensen II has repainted a 60-ton boulder on Iowa Highway 25 in western Iowa on Memorial Day every year since 1999. His work honors veterans, their families and the sacrifices they have made.
Two Ottumwa groups realized at Tuesday night's Parks Advisory Board meeting that they were both working toward the same goal of securing Wapello County's rock in Ottumwa.
Members of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 667 came to the board with a proposal to place the memorial rock in the veteran's area in Ottumwa Park next to the campground. Parks board members Kim Hellige and Sarah Sels, who also serve on the Ottumwa Area Arts Council, said the project has already begun.
"We've reserved him for next summer, and we've put down a deposit to hold him but we don't have the funds yet," Hellige said.
The entire project will cost approximately $5,000, and the arts council has already put down a $1,000 deposit. Sorensen has told the council he will install and paint the rock in Ottumwa at some point in 2014.
"We were afraid someone else in the county would get it," Sels said. "We started working with him so we would have it here in Ottumwa, so this is great. We started this project for you."
The VFW has found the 10-ton rock that will be used, and members said the VFW would be happy to work alongside the arts council in securing funding and deciding on the image.
For more information on the veteran's memorial rock, go online to www.thefreedomrock.com/tour.
CORRECTION: In Wednesday's article, "Honored in stone," members working to secure a memorial rock honoring veterans in Ottumwa Park were misidentified as belonging to the Ottumwa Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 775.
The members working on the project are from the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 667: Danny Mathews, president, and Jerry Schneeklot, member of the chapter.