Friday, December 08, 2023

New bench celebrated at War Memorial Field

Staff Writer | October 21, 2023 1:05 AM

SANDPOINT — War Memorial Field now boasts a new seat to honor those who serve their country in the U.S. armed forces.

An updated bench, purchased by the city of Sandpoint and Bonner County Veterans Services, was celebrated at a ceremony Wednesday as city and county officials and veterans gave speeches. The new bench was provided at a discounted price by Idaho Granite Works.

Over 20 years ago, Sandpoint Eagle Scout Joe Triplett built the bench as a testament to service, Luke Omodt, county commissioner, said.

Omodt played an integral role in the bench’s creation and establishment. He said that when looking for the right bench, he was hoping for something heavy, robust, and beautiful.

“This is it,” he said. “I hope everyone is able to enjoy it forever.”

Maeve Nevins-Lavtar, the city’s park planning and development manager, began her speech by explaining why the project meant so much to her. Her brother was a Green Beret and she is related to Sgt. First Class Liam Nevins, who was killed in Afghanistan 10 years ago.

“When this project began, it was because I was seeking support to get the bench replaced, not because the old bench wasn’t fabulous; it’s because the old bench was over 20 years old,” she said. “It meant so much to replace it to honor everyone who has served for our country — the men and the women and the families who have supported our freedoms.”

Nevins-Lavtar said that when she interviewed for her current job, she was asked about her favorite park in Sandpoint.

“I actually said this,” she replied, referencing the park. “War Memorial Field would be my favorite park because in my family, no matter where in the world I am, whether it’s here in Sandpoint or Colorado, where my family is from, or Alaska, where I just spent the last decade, or in Iraq and Istanbul, where I got to visit veteran memorials there, there is always a veterans memorial. It may seem insignificant to be celebrating a bench, but for families like mine, it means there is a piece of home, and there is a piece of my brother, in all of you and in everyone who values places like this throughout the world.”

Sandpoint Mayor Shelby Rognstad also gave a speech about what the memorial means to him. He referenced current events overseas.

“I see what’s going on in Gaza Strip and in Israel right now, and my heart goes out to all those people who have lost their lives and are losing their lives,” he said. “For me, it’s a present day reminder of how valuable service is. How the peace times that we enjoy — how difficult they are to come by. They come through hard work and service — how cherished they are, that we can live in such a peaceful, harmonious society.”

After thanking the Boy Scouts for the gift of the original bench, the mayor referenced the “new version,” as he called it.

“It’s a beautiful work of art,” he said. “I want to thank everyone that contributed to this.”

Local veteran Ray Calhoun also spoke, thanking all involved on behalf of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post.

Thomas Lindley, with Bonner County Veterans Services, discussed how meaningful the monument is to people like himself.

“As a veterans service officer, I live to help veterans,” he said. “It’s really more of a calling than it is a job — I just happened to get paid to do something I enjoy … The cost of freedom is not free; the families of Bonner County have paid for our freedom, and I appreciate that.”


The new granite bench at War Memorial Field, provided by Idaho Granite Works at a discounted price, was a result of group effort between the city of Sandpoint, Bonner County Veterans Services, Bonner County Commisioner Luke Omodt, and others.



Mayor Shelby Rognstad gave a speech thanking veterans for their service at a ceremony celebrating a new bench at War Memorial Field.

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