KOB viewers join effort to reimagine downtown vet's memorial

Updated: 03/14/2014 2:19 PM | Created: 03/13/2014 11:10 PM
By: Caleb James, KOB Eyewitness News 4

The effort to fix up a shabby little veteran's memorial park in downtown Albuquerque went to the next level Thursday.

After KOB Eyewitness News 4 first told viewers about the run-down park and the grassroots effort to fix it up using just a $221 grant from the city, the response has been huge.

"When I saw your story last night I was immediately impacted. I was like, something has to be done," said Nichole King-Campbell.

King-Campbell saw our original story about folks in downtown banding together to fix up the worn down Soldiers and Sailors park in downtown Albuquerque.

The little park meant to honor veterans between 13th and 14th Streets on Central Avenue is crumbling, and a determined group of neighbors and members of the Downtown Neighborhood Association have already been working to fix it.

Their efforts reached New Mexico state house of representatives majority leader Rick Miera (D - Albuquerque), who's pledged to find money for the project.

Seems positivety is contagious.

"We're definitely going to get some troops out," said King-Campbell.

King-Campbell said the story moved her to action.

"You can't help but be impacted by a story like that," she said.

King-Campbell is a major in the Air Force reserve, and a member of the Gen. Lloyd W. "Fig" Newton Chapter, Tuskegee Airman, Inc -- a non-profit organization that maintains the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen.

"My husband's grandfather was an original Tuskegee airman," she said.

So when she saw this park in shambles on TV Wednesday night, she started making calls.

"My hope is within a month we can at least have the paint done and the flag up," she said.

Her army of volunteers from all military branches will take care of that. But she says the park needs hard-wired lights to keep the flags lit up, and the park safe at night.

"If we could find an electrician that's willing to donate, especially if he's a veteran owned business or, it would make it so much more meaningful," she said.

She is teaming up with the guys who started this effort; Donny Johnson and Dick Deichsel are planning meetings with city officials while King-Campbell rallies the troops.

"Like a super-group!" said Johnson.

The effort is no longer to simply clean the park, he said, but to make it a destination for veterans to feel honored.

"Actually we'll make this a jewel," said Deichsel. "Instead of that sad state it's in currently."

Some of the things the "super group" wants to do will probably need approval from the city, so they will be meeting with the parks & recreation department soon. KOB will be included on those meetings to bring you the latest on this project.

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