By Bob Uphues
At the same time the Gold Star Memorial is being refurbished in Guthrie Park, plans also called for workers to re-site the Driver Monument, a large, granite former horse trough-turned-planter at the east end of the park.
The Driver Monument, donated to the village decades ago by the family of an early Riverside village president, is made of three different sections of granite, cemented together. The village had moved the monument to its present location from elsewhere in the park in 1967. It sat on a 12-inch-thick footing that had sunk so far forward into the ground it was becoming a hazard.
On May 9, workers poured a new 12-inch-thick concrete footing immediately behind the monument, which was to be lifted by a crane on May 13 and moved on top of the new footing.
It didn't go as planned.
As the crane began to lift the monument from the ground, one of four straps securing it snapped and the top two sections of the monument slid forward from their positions, tumbling to the ground.
"It was a heart-stopping moment," said Public Works Director Edward Bailey, who was on hand to watch the operation.
By early afternoon, however, workers had the monument in its new home, reassembled and no worse for wear. Even the pansies planted in the front trough escaped serious damage.
Part of the trouble, it turned out, was the weight of the monument. It was far heavier than anyone had anticipated. Estimates put the monument at 20,000 pounds, but it turns out that all three sections combined weighed 28,700 pounds, according to Bailey.