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Uvalde planning committee paves way toward establishing permanent memorial

While one committee member suggested Uvalde town plaza for a permanent memorial, some victims' family members say the site of Robb Elementary is more appropriate.

UVALDE, Texas — While families of the Robb Elementary tragedy continue to grieve, Uvalde’s Strategic Planning Committee has begun discussions on creating a permanent memorial in remembrance of the 21 victims.

Rosemberg Risa, born and raised in Uvalde, has served on the city’s Strategic Planning Committee for the past four years. He lost his niece, Tess Marie Mata, in the mass shooting that resulted in 19 students and two teachers killed at Robb Elementary on May 24.  

He longs for the day when families of lost loved ones can reflect at a permanent memorial.

“That’s one of the most important things, don’t forget, don’t forget,” Risa said.

Susan Anderson, Uvalde’s director of planning and development, presented how Newtown, Connecticut came together in planning a memorial following the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary where a gunman killed 26 people.

The multi-phase project amounting to nearly $4 million is nearing completion.

Risa said he hopes it doesn’t several years for a proper memorial to be erected in Uvalde.

“We don’t want it to go for years and years and years. But the best thing that could happen for here is have community input.”

Committee member Raymond Velos suggested the memorial be built at the town plaza, which has seen a pilgrimage of people from across the nation coming to pay their respects.

“I thought about 21 plaques around the fountain. People can walk around, view them,” Velos said.

Others stressed the importance of installing a permanent memorial at the site of Robb Elementary once the building is demolished.

Jesse Rizo thinks about his niece Jacklyn Cazares every day. Cazares and her cousin Jayce Luevanos died in the tragedy just days before summer break.

Rizo hopes a community board is formed that includes victims’ family members to lead the path forward on establishing a memorial in the community.

“You get to that place in your grieving process and your emotions and stuff where it’s a place where you’re going to be able to meditate, be able to sit there and pray and remember them, the children and the teachers. I think it’s vital," Rizo said. 

The planning committee made no decisions regarding the memorial during Tuesday’s meeting.

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