Solway community asks Knox County for road closure to build veteran memorial

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KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — Solway community members are hoping to build a veterans memorial near the Veteran Memorial Mile.

Reny McClainlee, a volunteer coordinator for the Knoxville chapter of the TVA Retiree Association, went to the Knox County Commission meeting Tuesday night to ask for a road to be closed for the project.

The memorial would be located on Solway Ferry Road, a dead-end road, just off Oak Ridge Highway.

The specific location would be across from Solway Baptist Church.

“Traveling that area, it just seemed that more needed to be done for our veterans, so we came up with the veteran’s memorial,” McClainlee said.

She said she thought of the project about a year ago, and has been working to get all the pieces together ever since.

McClainlee’s first reached out to Rep. Justin Lafferty (R-Knoxville) to figure out what she needed to do to get the project done.

Nearly all the funding came from the TVA Retiree Association, according to McClainlee.

She said the Solway Baptist Church and neighboring businesses were willing to share property and close off the road for the memorial.

McClainlee also had help from Knox County Public Works, TDOT and several community members willing to donate material and time for the project.

She said she hasn’t been told “no” from anyone since she got to work.

The hardest part so far was getting approval from all military branches to use their symbols.

McClainlee said that took her about six months.

“It didn’t help when they established a new branch of the military in December, and then I had to reconfigure the site drawings and the monument itself. But at least that will be included. The Space Force will be included,” McClainlee said.

She didn’t have any completed drawings of the memorial yet, at least not any that she was willing to show, but McClainlee said the memorial will be open to the public and include all six military branches and seating for reflection.

McClainlee said there will also be a plaque dedicated to all the community members who donated to the project.

Brad Anders, Knox County commissioner for the district, said the memorial will be a great addition to the area.

“This will be another addition that you know, kids going to school that can see the memorial, going to school on Solway Road. I think it will be a really neat addition to our community,” Anders said.

McClainlee said the memorial will also be a way to honor her loved ones.

“My dad was a World War II vet. My late husband fought in the Korean War. So my contribution and my give back to them is working this project,” McClainlee said.

The Knox County Commission will take up the proposal two more times for final approval.

McClainlee hopes to have a full military dedication ceremony by late summer or early fall.

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