BENTON, Tenn. -- A new Polk County bridge was named Thursday to honor the county's veterans.
A roadside ceremony was held at the new U.S. 64 bridge over U.S. 411 where a sign reading "Polk County Veterans Memorial Bridge" was unveiled.
State Rep. Eric Watson, R-Cleveland, was joined by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, Tennessee Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder and Polk County officials.
"It's an important day whenever we can honor those who served our country," Watson said.
Grinder, a veteran herself as is most of her family, lost her daughter-in-law in Iraq. She said, "When people cross this bridge, they will know sacrifices have been made."
Polk County has about 1,300 veterans, she said.
Ramsey, Polk County Mayor Hoyt Firestone, Polk Veterans Services Officer Ben Bright, Benton Mayor Jerry Stephens and County Commissioner James Woody made similar remarks.
"Each time a veteran crosses this bridge, they will see this sign as a token of thanks," Woody said.
Woody originally took the idea of naming the bridge to Watson, who pushed the resolution through the Legislature.
First Volunteer Bank put up the money for the signs, one each facing eastbound and westbound traffic on the busy highway that leads to the whitewater sports companies on the Ocoee River.
With the completion of widening U.S. 64 and work continuing on U.S. 411 near Benton, Stephens said the road projects have special meaning here.
"It is a shorter route through the mountains than Maryville or Knoxville," he said. "And it sets the stage for Corridor K."
Corridor K is the proposed highway through the Ocoee River gorge which has been under study for many years.
Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...