Remembrance walk receives approval
Kelly Frantz said she couldn't recall when exactly the idea came to mind for a memorial for her late husband, Army Pfc. Lucas Frantz, who was killed on his 22nd birthday while serving in Iraq.
It started with the idea of a tree.
That idea continues to grow.
Kelly Frantz, her mother, Pam Jeannin, and Tonganoxie brick mason CJ McDaniel, spoke to the Tonganoxie School Board last week about constructing a memorial -- the Chieftain Remembrance Walk -- near Beatty Field, where Tonganoxie High School plays football.
Tentative plans call for a tree to be planted at the memorial in Lucas Frantz's honor. A "T" formed with bricks would be constructed near the tree. Bricks would be sold for $35 and can bear the names of deceased THS alumni, teachers, administrators and the like.
The memorial is tentatively set to be constructed southwest of the football field, near the fieldhouse.
The latest artist's rendering of the site, which Kelly sketched, includes a half-circle brick area where individual bricks for anyone in the community -- living and deceased -- may be purchased and placed.
Board member Leana Leslie asked whether bricks would need to be purchased all at once and then be placed together.
McDaniel said that the bricks would be placed on a layer of sand, which would allow the bricks to be placed and removed freely. So, the memorial could be completed at the start while allowing for blank bricks to be replaced with engraved bricks down the road.
Lucas Frantz was a soldier but also a football player in high school. After Frantz's death, a ceremony at Beatty Field honored him, and his football jersey was retired that fall night.
"When they retired his jersey at the football field, I knew I wanted something at the football field," Kelly Frantz said after a meeting earlier this month to brainstorm about the potential project. "Initially it was a tree. It's just grown."
Kelly Frantz and Jeannin have stressed that while the proposed memorial would have a tree honoring Lucas, it would be a communitywide memorial.
"I do want the whole community to come together," Kelly Frantz said. "Everybody came together (when Lucas was killed in Iraq).
"I don't want that to go away. I want that to continue."
The school board gave the preliminary approval to move forward with the project, which Jeannin said would be funded completely by donations. She said excavation work and cement also would be donated.
Another project proposed in conjunction with the remembrance walk also received an initial go-ahead from the school board.
THS Booster Club president Brian Kemp and member Mark Himpel spoke to the board about their organization funding and constructing a gateway to the stadium where the existing southwest entrance stands.
It would be to the north of the remembrance walk.
Kemp said the stadium was a gathering place on Friday nights in the fall for football and in the spring for track meets and graduation.
He called it "an open-air community building" that needed a new entrance. The proposed entryway would have a pitched roof with a red metal roof that would tie in with the architecture of the nearby fieldhouse and press box.
The entryway would include booths for ticket-takers, which he said would be an improvement from the folding tables that currently are used. Organizers envision installing a few electrical outlets, but no hookups for heat or running water.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the gateway was Friday at Beatty Field. The project is expected to cost $15,000. For more on the groundbreaking, see page 1B.