Bates Township, Mich. (WZMQ) – In a touching ceremony, the late Iron County Road Commissioner, Larry Leonarduzzi, who tragically lost his life while on duty years ago, was memorialized with the dedication of a bench at a nearby canoe launch. The event brought a sense of peace to the grieving families, and crew members who are still coping with the loss.
The memorial site, located near the Paint River, had recently been vandalized, causing further pain for the community. However, the Iron County Road Commission swiftly restored the memorial to its former glory, showing their commitment to honoring the fallen commissioner.
During the dedication ceremony, remarks were given by the Superintendent Manager Brad Toivonen, and a current commissioner who vividly remembers the devastating loss. They both expressed their solidarity with the late road commissioner’s family and acknowledged the immense impact his passing had on the entire team.
“The employees, that was super tough on the whole crew here. We’ve never gone through anything like that before. We’re getting there, it’s getting better, but I mean, it’s still there,” shared Ernie Schmidt, Iron County Road Commissioner. “After Larry passed, we all wanted to do something special for Larry’s memory and his family. We tossed around ideas, and we came up with a bench with his name on it,” informed Schmidt. Schmidt added that the road commission is grateful to Bates Township for allowing the Road Commission to place the bench at the canoe launch site.
The metalworks and concrete were provided by the Iron County Road Commission, and the lumber was donated by Nick Bjorkman. Craftsmanship was provided by the Iron River building trades teacher, Jeff Swenski, who teaches an advanced building trades class to local students.
To add a spiritual element to the ceremony, a pastor from the United Methodist Church in Amasa delivered a dedication prayer, inviting those grieving to lay their hands on the newly dedicated bench. The gesture aimed to provide solace and comfort to those affected by the tragic loss.
In light of this solemn occasion, the Iron County Road Commissioners are urging motorists to slow down while driving and pay tribute to the memory of the fallen commissioner. By exercising caution and mindfulness on the roads, they hope to prevent any further tragedies and honor the legacy of their esteemed colleague.