September 7, 2013
VDOT honors all of its workers killed on the job with a memorial on Interstate 64 near Afton Mountain.
On Saturday, they made an addition to that memorial -- an engraving that's been in the making for nearly 80 years.
Vastine Stickley Arehart Sr. worked for VDOT in the 1930s. He died on the job near the intersection of Route 12 and Lee Highway after an accident.
"I've always felt close, even though I didn't know him, through my mom and sisters and brothers," said Arehart's daughter, Agatha Gay Arehart Meeks.
Meeks is the youngest of Arehart's nine children. She was just 3 years old when her father died and went to the memorial to see his name engraved with the other workers.
"We've been trying for years and years to get pictures and remembrances of all these people," said Lenny Tierney of VDOT.
Since the department created a memorial website about a decade ago, this is just the first instance where the family of a slain worker came forward. The Arehart family presented a newspaper article from the Evening Leader dated Sept. 15, 1936, and that was enough evidence for VDOT to have Arehart's name included on the memorial.
"When I saw the newspaper article saying he worked for the highway department, that's what started this whole process," said Amelia Ammons, Arehart's granddaughter. "It made me think, 'Hey, his name ought to be on this memorial.' And lo and behold, it's going up there today."
Just about a month has gone by since VDOT found out about Arehart, and his name is now engraved. The process took only about 15 minutes. VDOT officials say the memorial is a reminder for all drivers to pay attention to the roads.
"Be safe," Tierney said. "We don't want any more names on this wall."
And for the family of Arehart, even those who didn't know him well or at all, they're proud to see the new engraving.
"It's a wonderful tribute to the people that have given their life for the highway department," Meeks said.