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Council to consider land donation

Members of the Van Buren City Council will consider a $1 million land donation when they meet at 7 p.m. Monday in the city council room of the Municipal Complex.

The Rausch-Coleman families have asked to donate about 55 acres adjacent to the Forest Oaks subdivision if the city names the property “Mr. Chad and Betty Ann Colley Wilderness Park.”

“The City of Van Buren has been a partner with us in providing affordable housing to the citizens of Van Buren over the past 50 years and for that we are appreciative,” stated a letter to Mayor Bob Freeman signed by Rob Coleman and John Rausch.

“The Coleman and Rausch families wish to express their gratitude and thank the city by providing the City of Van Buren 55.35 acres to be used as a wilderness park,” the letter further states. “We would also like to use this occasion and contribution to recognize a great patriot and his wife, Mr. Chad and B.A. Colley, by naming this park after them.”

Ralph C. “Chad” Colley Jr., was born May 13, 1944, graduated from high school in Columbus, Ga., and North Georgia College and enlisted in the Army in 1966.

Colley was deployed to Vietnam Thanksgiving Day 1967 as a first lieutenant and a platoon leader and ranger in the 101st Airborne Division. July 21, 1968, while moving his company in position to cordon off an area under fire, Colley was injured by an explosive and lost both legs in the blast. His left arm was amputated later.

After his injury, Chad and Betty Ann Colley moved to Barling. He embarked on a new career as a real estate broker and became a licensed pilot.

Colley became an advocate for veterans at a national level. He served as national commander of the Disabled American Veterans and was awarded the distinction of handicapped person of the year by the President’s Committee on Employment of the Handicapped.

Betty Ann Putman Colley was born Dec. 31, 1945, and graduated from St. Pious X and graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in physical therapy. She and Chad married Oct. 7, 1967.

In 1969, she went to work for Sparks Hospital and later with the infant development program at Bost School. She also was the first therapist for the Gregory Kistler Treatment Center. She went to work for Holt Krock Clinic in the 1980s and worked part-time until 1993.

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