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State board votes to rename mountain to honor veterans

PHOENIX – A state board voted Tuesday to name a mountain in the Phoenix Mountain Preserve in honor of veterans.

The previously unnamed mountain, which overlooks State Route 51 as it heads into far north Phoenix, will be recognized by Arizona as Veterans Mountain thanks to a campaign started by Lanny Brent, an Air Force veteran who lives in Sun City.

Brent, who picked the mountain and drafted the request, said he was happy that veterans are getting the recognition they deserve.

“It shows honor and respect for all veterans past, present and future, and that’s what it’s all about,” Brent said.

The Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department had previously raised concerns that naming the mountain could lead to a flurry of such requests. But no one spoke against the proposal when it came before the Arizona State Board on Geographic and Historic Names.

The board approved the name with four members in favor and three abstaining from voting.

Spokesman David Urbinato said in a telephone interview Tuesday that neither the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department nor the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Board could officially support or oppose the name.

Brent, who served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War, spent six months looking for the site and filing paperwork with the state board, including notices giving city, state, federal and tribal governments and opportunity to submit comments.

“I’d like to think that this mountain is not only for Arizona veterans, but for all the tens of millions of veterans, men and women, who served in the Revolutionary War on,” Brent said.

“This is for the veterans’ sacrifices,” he said. “It’s just a mountain; I don’t think that’s so much to ask.”

Brent received a letter of support from U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., and his campaign got a boost in late October when state Sen. Linda Gray, R-Phoenix, and state Rep. Jerry P. Weiers, R-Glendale, held a news conference calling for the change.

Phil Hanson, a board member from the Arizona Historical Society and a retired Army colonel, said he had heard opposition from some who thought the name would require money that would be better used directly supporting veterans. But he also heard from veterans who supported the name.

“I feel very torn on this,” said Hanson, who abstained from voting. “I obviously want to do everything that we can do for those individuals who have served our country and are serving our country, but on the other hand I’m not sure that this is the best thing we can do under the circumstances.”

While Tuesday’s vote changes the name at the state level, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names will have to approve the change at a national level.

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