Opinion

There's no easy answer for Blount memorial

I have been reading and watching - as all of you have - regarding the Brandon Blount memorial near Tanner Road. I have talked to many

people around the Valley, asking what they think and how a resolution can be found. What I learned is that opinions and suggested resolutions

appear to be wide and varied.

I have no idea what the parents of Brandon Blount, David Szczepanik

or Dane Rempfer have gone through or are going through on a continuing

basis. I hope I never have to go through the pain they encountered.

In the case of the Blount family, I can somewhat understand that the

memorial has come to symbolize the life of their son. It has come to symbolize

the strength of a family and the many lives that their son touched.

On the other side of the equation is the Department of Transportation,

which is responsible for the maintenance of the area in which the Blount memorial

is located. They, too, have concerns about the impacts as a distraction and

the safety of memorial goers.

We have a family and the government at odds, not an uncommon

situation in today's society. But each of us needs to ask how we would react. Are

there more meaningful ways to celebrate Brandon's life than a memorial at the

location where he died? Is the memorial a distraction and - in the bigger scheme

of things - does the DOT have better things to do, like fix a few potholes? Are

two years enough time to allow a roadside memorial to occur? Does a

roadside memorial really celebrate the life that was taken?

So, what options are there? First, let's celebrate Brandon's life by

helping people in some way. A scholarship at Mount Si would be a great place to

start. Or maybe the purchase of something the school desperately needs, with

it remaining at the school in Brandon's name.

A road sign in memory of Brandon, at the accident site, as a reminder as

to how dangerous driving can be. All these things send a positive message

and can personally touch far more people than a roadside memorial.

As is probably evident by now, my concern is that a roadside memorial

is not the only celebration of a life. I do not believe that a roadside memorial

does justice to the accomplishments of an individual, but do believe it helps in

the grieving process. I am also concerned about the safety of people who may

stop and place flowers at Brandon's roadside memorial. Wouldn't it be tragic

if someone were run over after dark, as they placed a few flowers in memory

of a friend?

Nothing I say, or the county does, is going to ease the pain of

Brandon's family. I urge the County, the Blount family and even school administrators

to work together to celebrate his life. Let his death give something more to

other youth in the Valley than just a roadside memorial.

Jim McKiernan

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