It’s been nearly two years since Lloyd Marsh and Ron Mahoney sat down over a cup of coffee at the Madison Avenue Hy-Vee. The shooting death of Omaha Police Officer Kerrie Orozco, a Council Bluffs resident, was fresh in everyone’s mind.
The funeral procession carrying Orozco back to Council Bluffs for burial had stretched for miles, and thousands lined the funeral route in Omaha and Council Bluffs.
Marsh’s comment that Orozco — and police officers and firefighters in general — “didn’t know how much she was appreciated” turned out to be the seed of a plan for a Council Bluffs Public Safety Plaza for which ground was broken Monday morning.
Like Marsh and his wife, Debbie, Ron and Suzanne Mahoney had been moved by the outpouring of support shown following Orozco’s death.
The Mahoneys quickly embraced Marsh’s idea for some sort of a monument honoring those who work in public safety.
With the blessing of city officials, the Mahoneys agreed to donate $350,000 for needed landscaping and the creation of bronzes of a police officer, a firefighter, a sheriff’s deputy and an Iowa State Patrol trooper that would be featured in the plaza.
The site eventually selected for the plaza was an otherwise unused green space on the south side of West Broadway between Pearl and Main Streets.
Omaha sculptor John Lajba, who created the sculptures that are part of Veterans Plaza on the east side of Bayliss Park, was selected to create sculptures that will be featured in the Public Safety Plaza.
At Lajba’s suggestion, the original design was expanded to include a tribute to the men and women who staff the 911 Center, who serve as the bridge between the public reporting a problem or emergency and the law enforcement officers, firefighters or medics who are dispatched to provide needed services.
While law enforcement officers and…