Innovation in aircraft and stone showcased at Chanute biplane memorial

The Chanute biplane dedication ceremony that took place at the Ivy Tech Community College campus in Gary on July 14 caught the attention of flight enthusiasts all over. But historic progress in aircraft wasn’t the only innovation memorialized that day.


Underneath the glider model that was unveiled at the ceremony sits over 25,000 pounds of beautiful, crushed granite. While the stone is appreciated for how well it showcases the glider and mural behind it, many do not know that the granite itself is a record-setting innovation.


The 25,000 pounds of stone in Gary holds the world record for the largest amount of crushed granite displayed in one location. Additionally, the stone was donated by Recycled Granite, a now national franchise that has roots right here in Northwest Indiana.


Julie Rizzo, the founder and president of Recycled Granite, started her business in 2009 when she realized that granite fabricators were throwing millions of pounds of granite in the trash due to slight imperfections or the size of the slab. Since then, she has sparked the start of a brand new industry marketing products or finishes created with granite pieces from slabs that would typically be discarded. Not only does this industry offer a variety of unique granite products; it saves tons of granite from taking up space in landfills.


To complete the project for the Chanute memorial, Rizzo employed the members of her Green Abilities program. This program gives individuals with mental or physical disabilities the opportunity to obtain the Recycled Granite Artisan apprentice certification. They learn how to work with the granite and break it down in different ways for different projects.


“It was an opportunity to show their [the workers’] abilities and achievements,” Rizzo said of the dedication ceremony.


Getting the 25,000 pounds of stone to the memorial was a feat that required an all hands on deck approach.


“We do 90 percent of it by hand,” said Rizzo. “Machinery is great but we had to hand sort thousands of pieces of stone to make this happen.”


The dedication ceremony was hosted by the Gerald I. Lamkin Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center at Ivy Tech, Gary Campus with the Society of Innovators of Northwest Indiana.


“Working with the team at Ivy Tech and the Society of Innovators was an honor,” said Rizzo. “So many people are grateful to have the memorial in a location that they will see on a daily basis.”


For more information on the Chanute biplane memorial, visit


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