Las Vegas landscapers work to construct memorial

October 6, 2017 -  By

Las VegasFifty-eight trees—one for each victim of the Las Vegas shooting on Oct. 1—now stand resilient in the city-owned lot near Third Street and Charleston Boulevard. The centerpiece is a large donated oak tree, referred to as the “tree of life,” The Deseret News reported.

“There are a lot of oak trees around town, but they’re called ‘living oaks,’” said Las Vegas City Attorney Brad Jerbic, who lost oneof his co-workers in the attack. “They don’t lose their leaves. This one will. So every spring, it will replenish itself as kind of a symbol of what we need to do with ourselves.”

As the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported, the day after the Sunday night shooting, owners of Stonerose Landscapes, Daniel Perez and Jay Pleggenkuhle, believed the city needed a memorial space.

“We decided it was a shame that there isn’t a place to gather and heal in our community,” Pleggenkuhle said. “We liked the idea of a park, a memorial park or a prayer garden.”

With a plan in mind, the two reached out to city officials about creating a pop-up garden. Instead, they were granted a half-acre of city land to create a permanent park, complete with a prayer wall.

By Wednesday, landscape architects were working with other contractors, volunteers and city workers to complete a new, permanent memorial to honor the victims before the Friday night dedication at 7:30 p.m.

On Thursday morning, the project was well under way, and nearly 400 volunteers had donated their time or resources.

Pleggenkuhle noted that every last thing needed was donated.

Moon Valley donated trees, Star Nursery donated shrubs, S R Trucking came to drop 14 truckloads of soil and Sunworld put a lot of effort into the construction, according to Mark Hamelmann, vice president of Sunworld.

“It was really important for us,” said Jay Austin, territory manager for Ewing Irrigation & Landscape Supply, which contributed much of the water infrastructure to the property.

Judy Navarrete, vice president of operations for Star Nursery, painted lettering with her co-workers Wednesday morning.

“This will be a memory and long lasting and hopefully will help them heal,” Navarrete said. “We’re hoping for it. We all need a little bit of healing.”

Long-time resident and artist John Pacheco, whose studio sits nearby, brought over 25 cups of coffee for the volunteers and said it was “something else” to see the community come together so quickly on the memorial.

“You see people that have never met any of these victims donating trees, donating plants, donating their time, their effort, whatever it is that it takes—the outpouring of the generosity of this community is overwhelming,” Jerbic added.

Photo: James Marvin Phelps

Sarah Webb

About the Author:

Sarah Webb is Landscape Management's associate editor. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Wittenberg University, where she studied journalism and Spanish. Prior to her role at LM, Sarah was an intern for Cleveland Magazine and a writing tutor.

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