In the center of the Rhode Island Veterans Cemetery is a large Ceremonial and Commemorative area. This dramatic, horseshoe-shaped memorial has sweeping cast-in-place concrete walls with fifty-eight, inlaid, 6-foot high, black granite panels having engraved veterans' names. During the initial 1998-99 construction phase, the project was relatively trouble-free except that the availability of the large stone panels delayed the project for 7 months. The original granite specified was from Zimbabwe, but the architect actually wanted stone from South Africa, which was not available because of sanctions. Of the "black granites" available, the architect then approved a very dark and coarse-grained "granite" from Canada. Soon after installation, most of the stone panels progressively developed popouts and cracks. The only realistic solution to the pervasive failure was to replace all the panels, although the manufacturer would not admit to any materials problem and supply replacement panels free-of-charge. Ultimately, there was no inexpensive and amicable solution for any of the participants in this project. The state declared non-performance and suspended the project engineer, the design architect, and the contractor from bidding on state projects for two years. This resulted in many lawsuits that were resolved to nobody's satisfaction, but with the vindication of some of the parties. The state ultimately slightly redesigned the memorial, demolished the 1999 construction, and caused a new memorial to be constructed with stone from another source.
Steven Stokowski, a registered Professional Geologist, is the owner and materials geologist of Stone Products Consultants. Steve has extensive geological and petrographic experience across the US. He has a MS in Geology from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and a BS in Geology from George Washington University. Steve is the 2014 recipient of the Herbert C. Hoover Award from the Washington DC Section of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration (SME), the 2017 Robert W. Piekarz Award from SME, and the Chair of the Industrial Minerals and Aggregates Division of SME. He is Registered or Certified as a Geologist in Georgia, Maine, Virginia and other states.