Family of fallen veteran opposes bill renaming stretch of I-15 for former Speaker Lockhart

Posted at 7:24 PM, Mar 27, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-27 23:58:35-04

UTAH COUNTY -- A bill that passed unanimously in the Utah legislature would dedicate and rename a portion of I-15 in remembrance of former House Speaker Becky Lockhart, but a group of people say the highway already has a name given to honor Utahns--and they don’t think that should change.

The Veterans Memorial Highway is another name for I-15 in Utah, and House Bill 385 would rename the portion of I-15 between Lehi and Spanish Forks’ Main Streets after Rebecca D. Lockhart, who was the first female Speaker in Utah’s House of Representatives and a Republican trailblazer in the state who died in January due to a degenerative brain disorder.

However, the family of a Utah man killed while serving in the military says legislators should find another road.

Jim Towse said three weeks before his son, Pfc. Cody Towse, was killed by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan, he had a conversation with his child he will never forget.

"He said it's too bad because nobody will ever care about those guys, and nobody will ever remember them,” Towse said. “So that's the way Cody felt when he died is that people wouldn't remember him.”

Towse is now fighting to preserve the memory of his son and other fallen soldiers by insisting I-15 remain the Veterans Memorial Highway and nothing else.

Towse said: "I just think it's already named for veterans, why change it? She was not a veteran.”

The bill renaming the stretch of I-15 in Lockhart’s honor has already passed in both the Utah House and Senate, and State Rep. Kevin Stratton, the bill’s sponsor, said his father is a veteran and that he doesn’t mean to diminish the sacrifice of veterans.

“We certainly don’t want to do anything to take away the honor and goodness and services of veterans," he said.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said his office has received several calls from veterans opposing the bill. He has until April 1 to decide whether or not to veto.

"It passed unanimously in the House and the Senate,” he said. “There's got to be, for me to veto, a very compelling reason to overturn it, and so I will talk to the sponsors and see what the options are out there and make a decision before my 20-day period runs out.”

Jim Towse said they are planning a rally in opposition to the bill, and it is scheduled for Monday at 6 p.m. at the Utah State Capitol.