Polk County bridge named as memorial to area veterans

Polk County bridge named as memorial to area veterans

July 20th, 2012 by Randall Higgins in News

State Rep. Eric Watson, R-Cleveland, speaks Thursday during a ceremony to name the new U.S. 64 bridge at U.S. 411 in honor of Polk County's veterans. From left are County Mayor Hoyt Firestone;Tennessee Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder; Lt. Gov Ron Ramsey; Watson; Ben Bright, Polk veterans affairs officer; Benton Mayor Jerry Stevens.

Photo by Randall Higgins/Times Free Press.

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.