By CRISTIN REECE
Nearly a year after a former city employee prompted the city of Palestine to look at re-establishing a memorial dedicated to the seven astronauts killed in the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion, the new memorial is now thriving at its new location.
The city’s Challenger rose garden memorial is now at the entrance of the Museum for East Texas Culture.
Brenda Vice, a former Palestine parks and recreation director who now resides in New Mexico, rallied city officials in 2012 to rebuild the garden after discovering the original garden, which was located on Crockett Road in front of Reagan Park, was gone.
“As I understand it, the original garden was destroyed and the memorial’s plaque damaged after a car crashed into it a number of years ago,” current Palestine Parks & Rec Director Roy Crouch said. “We were able to work with Ms. Vice in designing a new garden and collaborated in choosing a new location, since the old location wasn’t a good one.”
The Parks & Recreation Department recently completed the new garden’s landscaping and planted seven Knockout roses in memory of the seven astronauts — Michael J. Smith, Dick Scobee, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis and Judith Resnik — killed when the Challenger shuttle exploded in January 1986.
After the disaster, it was under Vice’s direction that the parks and recreation department with the city’s approval planted the first garden. The new garden also features shrubs, dwarf magnolias and a 1,400 pound boulder that carries the memorial’s new bronze plaque.
Crouch said Vice has been emailed photos of the new garden and “is very pleased.”
“I’m pleased too,” he said. “I think it’s a great location and more people will get to see it and enjoy it now then where it used to be. It really turned out very nice.”
Vice told the Herald Press last year, she just wants the town she “calls home” to continue to grow but not at the expense of its past.
“I’m so proud of that town, it’s like a little piece of Americana,” she said.
Palestine Herald Press Managing Editor Angie Alvarado contributed to this story.