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Las Vegas community rallies to create memorial for shooting victims
Beth Hyatt | October 6, 2017
las vegas skyline

Photo: Wikipedia

Landscape architects in Las Vegas, Nevada, came together with other contractors, city workers and volunteers less than three days after the mass shooting that left 58 dead to complete a new, permanent memorial to honor the victims.

“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,” Las Vegas city attorney Brad Jerbic, who lost one of his co-workers, Cameron Robinson of St. George, in the attack, told KSL.com.

The idea came to two landscape architects the Monday following the incident; they believed the city needed a space that could serve as a memorial park or prayer garden-like space.

The landscapers got in touch with Jerbic on Monday, and construction on the city-owned lot near 3rd Street and Charleston Boulevard was underway by Tuesday.

“From there, it just sort of rolled, you know,” Jay Pleggenkuhle, owner of Stonerose Landscapes, told KSL.com. “The big tree was donated by Siegfried (Fischbacher) and Roy (Horn). They’re huge supporters of the community.”

Jerbic noted that this tree has been referred to as the “tree of life.”

“It’s deliberately a tree that will lose its leaves,” Jerbic told KSL.com. “It’s an oak tree. And there are a lot of oak trees around town, but they’re called, ‘living oaks.’ 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.”

To represent the 58 victims of the shooting, 58 trees were planted on Wednesday. A prayer wall will also be constructed. The landscapers say that numerous contractors donated time, material and efforts to the project.

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

“This will be a memory and long-lasting and hopefully will help them heal,” Judy Navarrete, vice president of operations for Star Nursery, told KSL.com. “We’re hoping for it. We all need a little bit of healing.”

Navarrete said she and her co-workers painted lettering on Wednesday morning.

The plan, according to Jerbic, is to have the memorial completed by Friday night’s “First Friday” arts festival; a dedication is slated for 7:30 p.m.

John Pacheco, long-time resident and artist, has a studio nearby and said that it was “something else” to see the community come together so quickly to build the memorial.

“For a town like that to come together so strong, it’s awesome,” Pacheco told KSL.com. “They’re busting it out there.”

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