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Despite skyrocketing prices, work on Veterans' Memorial will resume soon

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HARTINGTON — Once again activiity is set to resume on the Hartington Veterans Memorial.

The goal is to complete the memorial by early October in time for a dedication ceremony on Veterans Day — Friday, Nov. 11, said project coordinator Dan Kathol.

Meeting these target dates will require all the necessary money still needed is raised and construction stays on what will be a very tight schedule, Kathol said.

What has been ordered for the memorial so far has been all the granite monuments and benches, the life size kneeling bronze soldiers, the five overhead light poles and light fixtures and the three flag poles, flags and spot lights.

“We are faced with and challenged by rising prices on almost everything we have purchased and will be purchasing for the memorial making it extremely difficult to set a budget for the project," Kathol said.

Currently, Kathol said he is waiting to see if the price of steel and stainless steel for the arch and fencing comes down in price before they have to purchase it.

"It has more than doubled in price this past year and concrete is up eighteen percent,” he said.

As early as possible this coming spring, the entire top dirt surface of the memorial will need to be re-graded with dirt taken out to accommodate a nine-inch slope from the far west end of the memorial to the east end to allow the rain water and snow melt to flow and to the back of the memorial and drain out the east wall outlets. Additionally, dirt has to be removed to accommodate the five and a half inches for the memorial concrete floor and another three or so inches of dirt taken out to put down a sand base before the concrete floor is poured to avoid any future cracking, Kathol said.

Next, forty-eight inch deep footings will be dug and filled with concrete for seven of the heavier granite monuments to be sure they do not settle. The remaining monuments will be able to be set on top of the concrete floor.

Footings will also be poured for the two ten-foot high brick pillars that will hold up the arch at the entrance.

At this time, the flag poles and light poles can be installed and cemented in place, Kathol said. Before the concrete floor is poured, the necessary wiring and conduit for all the lights will need to be placed.

On the north and south sides of the memorial, the outer four feet will be left in dirt to accommodate ornamental rocks, bushes and grasses. On the east end, there will be twelve (12) feet left with dirt to place an ornamental tree in each corner with ornamental bushes and grasses filling up the rest of the space along with the donor board. Weed barrier and river rock will be put over the top soil before anything is placed or planted.

Next, the forty-eight inch high fencing will be installed on top of the wall and the pillars for the arch erected at the entrance.

The last major pieces to be installed by the monument company will be all the granite monuments and benches and the bronze kneeling soldiers. A crane will be needed to place some of the heavier monuments that will be lifted over the north wall and placed using a sling. The smaller and lighter monuments can be brought in through the entrance. When this is all completed, the arch will be put in place and attached to the brick pillars.

As far as lighting, the arch lighting and the spot lights for the flags and the Welcome Monument spot light just inside the entrance area will be on a photo cell so the lights will be on all night from dusk to dawn. All of the remaining lights will be on timers set from dusk to 11 p.m. to accommodate night visitors to the memorial.

The most important monuments will be the six monuments that will include 1052 veteran names and their branch of service.

The veteran names will be engraved on both sides of the six monuments in two columns per side in alphabetical order.

There will be space on the back side of the last monument to include additional names for future requests. Any future names that will be added will be engraved in the order they are received and not in alphabetical order.

“The monument company needed all the veteran names by Feb. 1 so they could begin engraving the names over the winter time. Thus, we have ended the official sponsorship of veterans as we can’t add additional names once the engraving process begins. However, if there are any additional veteran names that people want to sponsor now or later, they can be added at the end after the letter Z,” Kathol said.

In total, there were 607 individuals who sponsored the 1052 veterans whose names will appear on the monument for veteran names.

A number of individuals donated money to adopt 76 of the 1052 veterans at $150 per veteran. These are veterans who had no one sponsoring them and adoption preference was given to those veterans killed in action (KIA) or who were POW victims.

To date, 234 individuals, families and businesses have made a donation toward the veterans memorial project in amounts ranging from $10 up to two anonymous donations of $50,000 each.

For donations of $500 or more, separate from the veteran sponsorships, a Donor Board will be in place in the memorial recognizing those individuals, families and businesses.

The donations also include the value of any labor or materials the contractors on the project want to donate as well as the value of the land donated by Ben and Erin Schroeder.

To date, over $415,000 has been raised for the memorial project of which $135,000 was spent on the concrete wall and the significant amount of clay dirt that was hauled in and tamped.

In addition, a new sidewalk was put in on the entire north side and a concrete pad in the back.

“The downtown location of the veteran’s memorial is a great location but it also has been a challenging location to get it to a point where a memorial can be built on the site,” Kathol said. “A few things had to be cut out of the original plan but by in large, the final memorial will look very close to the original design.”

A dramatic increase in the cost of materials means fund-raising for the veteran’s memorial is continuing. The granite monuments and their shipping costs, the cost of steel and concrete have all gone up significantly.

Besides the higher cost for steel, it is currently hard to get steel and metal products which is driving up the price even more, Kathol said.

“The timing of building the veterans memorial unfortunately has turned out to be a most difficult period of time to be building or constructing anything which many people are experiencing as well as the farming opera tions,” Kathol said. “The goal is to raise an additional $40,000 for the project from now till this fall to meet the higher prices and also allow us to have a kitty of $10,000 set aside to pay for any future maintenance and flag purchases.”

Any donation and check can be made out to the Hartington Veterans Memorial and sent to the Hartington Veterans Memorial, P.O. Box 882, Hartington, NE 68739.

The donation is tax deductible and it also qualifies for any annual Required Minimum Distri bution from ones’ IRA that needs to be withdrawn this year and where no taxes need to be paid on the amount donated.

If anyone has any questions on anything related to the veteran’s memorial project, they can call Dan Kathol at 402-640-3334.