Tarleton honors veterans with reserved parking

Josh Harville jharville@empiretribune.com
Dr. F. Dominic Dottavio with Col. Kenny Weldon, Mayor of Stephenville, cut the purple ribbon signifying the opening of reserved spaces for combat wounded veterans.

Tarleton State University honored combat wounded veterans with an unveiling of four dedicated parking spaces for current or former troops who have received The Purple Heart.

University Chief of Police Matt Welch, head of TSU's parking; Tarleton President Dr. F. Dominic Dottavio; and Col. Kenny Weldon (USAF Ret.), commandant of Tarleton’s revived Corps of Cadets program and mayor of Stephenville, led a ceremony and ribbon cutting that welcomed a variety of veterans, current servicemen and citizens.

The reserved parking spaces are painted in Tarleton purple, outlined in white, and are located across the university’s campus marked with special signs provided by the Wounded Warriors Family Support organization. The signs include the words “Combat Wounded” and an image of The Purple Heart.

“Having these spaces is important to us because, for many years and for most of our history, Tarleton has had a close association with the military. It’s embedded in our tradition and part of who we are as a university. To honor those who have served so faithfully for us is something that should be done at a university like Tarleton,” Dottavio said during his address. “I’m very proud to know that we’re the first university in the Texas A&M University System, if not the entire state of Texas, to have designated spaces for combat wounded veterans.”

Tarleton alumni and two time recipient of the Purple Heart, Jimmy Bell, attended the event and was the first to park in the spot after the ribbon cutting ceremony.

“I think it’s pretty cool,” he said. “There’s not a lot of people walking around with that distinction.”

Bell, in good humor, joked about the irony of the situation as he said just last year he had a boot on his car in the same parking lot. “No more tickets,” he said as he pulled into the dedicated spot.

“Honestly is shows the veteran organization here on campus that Tarleton supports us," said Chilo Carlson, president of the TSU Veterans Association. "That’s a really important thing to us.”

The four reserved parking spaces are located next to Davis Hall, the west side of Memorial Stadium, the south entrance to Wisdom Gym and adjacent to the Tarleton Center and Military Veterans Services Center office.

“We ought to be proud to be here today and to be apart of this,” Weldon said. “To know the bravery they provided for their country, it’s one of the most recognized and respected honors.”