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Local veterans developing plans for a special memorial

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HARTINGTON — When Ben and Erin Schroeder purchased the vacant Hartington Hotel, they got a vacant lot across the street as part of the deal.

They originally thought of building a parking lot there, but decided against it. A  small downtown park with trees, bushes and seating was also considered, but again, they decided against that plan.

It was finally decided to donate the land to either the city of Hartington or to one of the local veterans groups  so the community of Hartington could build a veterans’ memorial, much like the ones recently constructed in Coleridge, Crofton, Wynot and Randolph.

Members of Hartington’s three veterans organizations — VFW, American Legion and AmVets — met recently and decided to accept an offer to build a veteran’s memorial in downtown Hartington.

Exactly who will own the donated land is still undecided, but one thing is for sure, the local veterans want to see a memorial built on that corner.

Local veterans have some very ambitious plans for that site.

Dean McGregor and Dan Kathol spoke last week with the Hartington City Council about the idea.

Kathol estimates the memorial will cost an estimated $200,000 to build, but no firm figures have yet been established. 

“Ninety-nine percent of these funds are going to have to be raised,” he said.

Knowing that fund raising will be a necessary part of making this project work, Kathol asked the Council to consider donating to the project.

“I know budget time is coming up, and I am not going to be shy about asking to get into the city budget,” he said. He then asked the city to make an up front donation of between $5,000-10,000. Kathol said he believes the county would also consider making a $5,000 donation since they’ve already made $5,000 donations to the veterans’ memorials in Wynot and Randolph.

Kathol said the support by the local veterans groups was overwhelming.

Kathol invited Bob Luken, Luken’s Memorial, Yankton, to Hartington to discuss the location and get an initial point of view as to whether the site would work for a memorial since it is a sloped lot.  

Luken’s company has worked with several area towns over the years in helping to design and furnish the memorials.  Although the site presented some  challenges, Luken felt the ground was suitable for a nice and unique veterans memorial.  

Kathol said the grade at the site presents itself as an opportunity to put in a small water feature down the middle of the memorial with a water pool at the bottom east end where water could be pumped back up to the top and continue to recirculate down the tiered memorial. 

“This would be a nice addition if it was affordable and ongoing maintenance was practical and kept to a minimum,” Kathol said.

Before moving forward with the project, a Geotechnical Company has been hired to test the soil with boring samples around the property to ensure the building site will be stable and that settling will not occur.  

The location used to house a furniture store with a basement and when it was torn down years ago, the void left was filled with a combination of primarily soil and sand.  

“James Bertsch from Certified Testing Services Inc. indicated doing a good soil testing is absolutely essential on a project of this nature where a lot of weight will be put on the soil and you need to ensure that you do not have any settling occurring in the future that would damage the memorial,” Kathol said.

Once some preliminary concept drawings are developed, cost estimates can be produced and fund raising efforts will formally begin, Kathol said.

“On a project of this scope, it will be necessary that a number of large donations be made by individuals, families or businesses in order to get us to our goal of $200,000,”  Kathol said.  


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