An Eagle Scout project will soon help a pair of memorials, that have been languishing on the north side of IH-10 in Sealy, get more attention.
About 20 years ago, an Austin couple placed the granite markers to memorialize two Austin County DPS Troopers who died in the line of duty.
“I didn’t even know they were there until my Dad pointed them out,” said Garrison Rutledge, a Bellville Boy Scout. “I’ve talked to all sorts of people who didn’t know about them.”
The markers were erected by Clint and Jeanne Tomlinson. Mark Frederick was shot while in pursuit of a suspected armed credit card thief in 1976. William “Bill” Kohlleppel was struck by cement truck while on a traffic stop on Interstate 10 in 1985. Both died in the line of duty.
“I’ve worked in this county for nearly 20 years and didn’t know they were there,” said Garrison’s father, Jonathon, a DPS Trooper stationed in Austin County.
He said he learned of the markers in 2010.
“We were told to gather in the parking lot of (Cliff Jones’ Tractor) for a ceremony,” he remembered. “We had no idea why, why there. That’s when I learned that the memorial was just on the other side of the chain link fence. I’d driven by that thousands of times and didn’t know they were there.”
“It’s amazing how many people didn’t,” Garrison added.
Garrison’s original Eagle Scout project didn’t include moving the markers. It was just to clean up the space.
But, while researching the project, he discovered a public desire to move them to a better location.
But, he learned, the parks in Bellville were full. So were the obvious places at local police departments.
That’s how Garrison arrived on a site in Sealy’s Cryan Memorial Park between the swimming pool and the skateboard ramp.
He made a presentation to the Sealy City Council to get its permission, then began asking for donations to build the memorial.
“We talked to people about what we needed,” he said, adding that he found “… talking to people isn’t easy but, one of the things Boy Scouts is supposed to teach is to make us become leaders. That helped me do all this.
And local businesses stepped up.
“People really wanted to have a part in it and that’s great,” Garrison said.
People donated the concrete, dirt work and a new granite marker. Others committed to installation of a flag pole and to running the electricity needed to illuminate the flags.
“Every time we asked, we were told, ‘I know someone who can do that for you.’”
He did have to raise some money. Garrison said it will cost about $1,500 to install park benches at the memorial but the Texas Association of First Responders kicked off that campaign with a $750 donation.
The project is well under way but not yet complete.
The flag pole and electrical still needs to be installed, as do the park benches. The site needs landscaping and fencing — and he is still looking for help in those areas.
Garrison said he hopes to have a dedication ceremony sometime in April but, if not then, certainly by Police Memorial Day, May 15.
“He has so much support for this project,” said the elder Rutledge. “It’s really very nice to know that people really do support and care for law enforcement.”