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Published November 15, 2012, 11:30 PM

Wahpeton carving out park to honor man who lost battle with brain tumor

WAHPETON, N.D. - A sculpture park is taking shape within Wahpeton’s Chahinkapa Park thanks to the efforts of volunteers who are donating equipment and time.

By: Dave Olson, INFORUM

WAHPETON, N.D. - A sculpture park is taking shape within Wahpeton’s Chahinkapa Park thanks to the efforts of volunteers who are donating equipment and time.

Dean and Jo Allmendinger, who have run a landscaping business in Wahpeton for many years, are playing a major role, along with their son, Mike, who heads a landscape architecture company in Fargo called Land Elements.

Their aim: to make the park a destination for art, photography and sculpture in the region.

And, they say, they are doing it for Luke.

Luke Allmendinger was in his late 20s when he died in 2009 of a brain tumor.

Mike Allmendinger said the sculpture park is something his brother, who attended architecture school at Oklahoma State University, would have found valuable.

“It has architecture, it has art and it has photography – all things Luke was passionate about,” Mike Allmendinger said Thursday at the park, where he helped supervise the unloading of 16 titanic boulders from eight semitrailer trucks.

The megaliths, which were hauled to Wahpeton from White Rock, S.D., will be placed about the sculpture park once the ground freezes sufficiently to allow them to be moved with minimal effort and damage to turf.

Thursday’s delivery was accomplished with donated boulders, trucks, fuel and driver time, an example of how individuals and companies are working together to make the sculpture park happen, Allmendinger said.

“The whole project is super amazing,” he said, adding that a fundraiser is under way to come up with the estimated $100,000 needed to pay for sidewalks and other amenities.

One item organizers plan to include is called a water pad, a sprinkler/fountain-type feature Allmendinger said will be a draw for children and complement the nearby zoo.

Among those helping to unload the boulders Thursday was Korey Skovholt.

Skovholt, a lifelong friend of the Allmendinger family, also suffered a loss in recent years.

His sister, Lisa, died in a car accident in 2010 at the age of 30.

Skovholt said his involvement in the park project was a way to honor the memory of his sister and his friend.

The Allmendingers hope an early contribution to the sculpture park will be a piece of artwork inspired by a design Luke Allmendinger created in architecture school.

They plan to call it, “Family Unit.”

Major work on the sculpture park is anticipated to start early next year, said Wayne Beyer, director of Wahpeton parks and recreation.

Beyer said creating art space is as important to a community as providing sports and recreational facilities.

And in the case of the sculpture park, most of the effort has come from the public itself, Beyer said.

“To this point, everything has been fundraised. There has been little public investment,” he said.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555

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