Crews cut trees last week to prepare for the construction of the Pasco County Fallen Law Enforcement Memorial.
That’s just one step needed to erect the planned memorial on the front law of the Historic Pasco County Courthouse in downtown Dade City.
It’s a project that’s been a longtime coming — but now that the money has been raised to pay for the permanent tribute, it won’t be too much longer before the vision becomes reality.
Pasco County Commissioner Ron Oakley gave his colleagues an update on the project during the county board’s Jan. 10 meeting.
He expects construction of the memorial to be complete within the next three months to four months, weather permitting.
“We hope to see that memorial out on the front lawn, on the corner, next to Meridian Avenue and Seventh Street,” Oakley said, during the meeting, held in the board’s second-floor chambers in the historic courthouse.
Commission Chairman Jack Mariano reacted enthusiastically to the news: “Looking forward to that!”
Oakley added: “Yeah, it’s been a long wait. We’ve been waiting like nine years to get that done.”
Mariano expressed the county’s gratitude to Oakley for the commissioner’s private efforts to raise the money for the project.
Oakley thanked others who were involved, as well.
The project was started almost a decade ago.
Tim Hennigan, who has been involved in the efforts since the beginning, recapped the history during a groundbreaking ceremony for the memorial in October.
He told those gathered about the event that inspired the effort to pursue a permanent memorial.
It was windy and rainy one year during the Pasco Sheriff’s annual memorial ceremony for fallen law enforcement office, recalled Hennigan, who is president of the board for the Pasco County Fallen Law Enforcement Officer Memorial and Benefit Foundation Inc.
Photos of the fallen officers began blowing away, he said.
Hennigan said his wife encouraged him to put together an organization to pursue the construction of a permanent memorial, so he did.
Hennigan enlisted his friend, Skip Stone to get involved and they sat down with an accountant to get the ball rolling.
Fundraising efforts began small, but others joined in, including Craig Laporte, an attorney who is a former Pasco Sheriff’s Office deputy.
Oakley, his friend Randy Blankenship, and others recently helped push the fundraising effort for the memorial over the finish line.
When the memorial is completed, Pasco will join the state’s other 66 counties that already have permanent memorials to their fallen law enforcement officers.
“We have a lot of citizens that look forward to that being placed there, in support of our law enforcement,” Oakley said.
Published January 18, 2023