ROCKY MOUNT, Va. – The Town of Rocky Mount and Franklin County have a new memorial honoring first responders who died in the line of duty.
The first piece of the Rocky Mount-Franklin County First Responders Memorial was installed in October. The triangular etched granite monument stands over seven feet tall and is five feet wide per side and was designed in concert with the manufacturer, Picture This On Granite, which specializes in high-quality, high-resolution laser-etched public monuments. One production error was corrected and installed in February, making the initial memorial installation complete.
The monument features original artwork from local artist Freda Nichol and
individual plaques honoring firefighters, police and sheriff’s officers, and a United States Marshal who died in the line of duty serving in Franklin County.
“We are delighted to finish this first step after years of work, design and development,” said Commission Chair Matthew Hankins, Rocky Mount’s assistant town manager. “This is an important step in remembering the sacrifices of these first responders whose lives have impacted so many people throughout our communities.”
The monument stands by the Rocky Mount Public Safety Building at 1250 North Main Street, and the first piece of a developing a new park around the memorial. The work is the result of a joint town and county memorial commission created after the 2010 deaths of firefighters Posey Dillon and Danny Altice. Funding was provided by the Town of Rocky Mount, Franklin County and the Lights For Life Campaign, which installed pre-emption devices at town stoplights after the 2010 crash. An official dedication will be scheduled and held later in 2019.
“Our commission would especially like to thank L.D. Arrington, who spearheaded the Lights For Life Campaign, for his work in helping find donors and involve the public in protecting first responders and the public at traffic signals,” said Hankins. “Franklin County and Rocky Mount residents have been so giving and have show such positivity toward our first responders, and our commission is pleased to be able to
place and dedicate this lasting monument.”
The next step for the memorial is a fundraising drive centered on the sale of brick walkway pavers honoring first responders. Through 2021, first
responders who served public safety agencies (fire, police, rescue) in Franklin County are eligible to purchase bricks, which will be used to pave around the new memorial and create a lasting commemoration of the service provided by first responders. Beginning in 2022, local first responders who honorably served anywhere will be able to purchase a paver.
“Our commission members have worked hard to create a lasting and attractive monument to our fallen first responders,” said memorial commissioner and past Rocky Mount Fire Chief Charlie Robertson. “We invite the public to be a part of our next phase as we honor all of those who have worked in policing, fire response and emergency medical services.”
Brick sales are now open through the Rocky Mount Community Development office at 345 Donald Avenue. Forms will be distributed through local public service agencies and made available at Town and county offices. Just like Veterans Park, standard 4-inch-by-8-inch bricks are $100 and 8-by-8 bricks are $200.
The commission is accepting donations, which will be used to create park
amenities, maintain the memorial and park area, and create lasting opportunities for the public to honor the sacrifices made by first responders. Park improvements include walkways, flagpoles, seating, landscaping, lighting, parking upgrades
and access improvements.
The commission has already received an initial contribution of $20,000 in honor of late Rocky Mount Fire Chief Posey Dillon, who is depicted on the monument.
Tax deductible contributions may be made to the Town of Rocky Mount, ATTN: First Responders Memorial, 345 Donald Avenue, Rocky Mount, VA 24151 or in person at the Rocky Mount Town Hall. Brick purchases and donations are tax deductible as contributions to a local government.
The commission has a Facebook page set up to provide more information about the memorial’s development at https://www.facebook.com/RMFCMemorial/ and the public is invited to join the group to honor local first responders.
The current members of the commission include Chairman Matthew Hankins, former Rocky Mount Fire Chief Charlie Robertson, former Rocky Mount Fire Auxiliary President and Franklin County Veterans Commission Chair B.W. Wright, Franklin County Public Safety Director Billy Ferguson and Franklin County Union Hall Board of Supervisors Member Tommy Cundiff. Former. Past members who helped develop the monument include the late Charles Wagner and former Franklin County Public Safety Director Daryl Hatcher.