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Legislature considers Punks Smith memorial
ARLINGTON A measure to establish a memorial honoring the late Arlington-born civic leader Oliver Punks Smith is continuing to work its way through the state legislature, after passing the House Feb. 15.
Rep. Kirk Pearson is sponsoring House Joint Memorial 4030, which would designate the 172nd Street NE overpass on I-5 in Arlington as the Oliver Punks Smith Interchange.
Punks led the group of local elected officials and business people who found the money to make the interchange a success, Pearson said. Since he inspired and drove through the passage of the Transportation Relief Action Plan to build the overpass, its only fitting to name the overpass in his honor. Not only did he work to make our community better at the ground level, but he served us all in many capacities. We knew he listened and acted in our best interests.
Pearson recalled that, at the time, everyone said we should name it after Punks, it wasnt until he tried to do so that he discovered how time-consuming a process it would be.
When we found out it wasnt going to be named after him, we had to go through the process of doing a memorial petition, Pearson said. It was heard by the Senate Transportation Committee, but it didnt pass last year because it didnt make the cut-off date.
After passing the House this year, HJM 4030 has again been submitted for a Senate Transportation Committee hearing, after which it will proceed through the Rules Committee, and then on to the Senate floor for consideration, before returning to the House for concurrence.
Ive been working the Senators explaining the importance of this to Arlington, Marysville and Smokey Point, Pearson said. Weve gotten a lot of letters of local support, from fellow Congressmen and Mayor Larson to city council members and citizens. Its a big deal. I was delighted to know Punks. He was a great person.
Smith was born in Arlington in 1935 and remained an active member of the community until he passed away in September of 2007. Pearson noted that many area residents remember Smith for serving on the Arlington City Council for 20 years.
He deserves to have a permanent landmark, that represents something he worked so hard for, and that reminds us all of his exceptional service to our communities, Pearson said. Its a fine tribute to a gentleman who loved his community.