HARTINGTON — The first phase of the Hartington Veterans’ Memorial project has largely been completed.
The first phase of the project consisted of preparing the site at the southeast corner of Broadway and State streets for the actual memorial.
“The land being developed for the memorial has presented a real challenge, as the area has a 10-foot slope from the west end to the east end requiring a lot of dirt work, cement walls and the financing to build up the area and level it so the site could be made suitable for the planned memorial,” said project coordinator Dan Kathol.
First, all the sand that originally filled the entire lot had to be trucked out and reinforced footings and concrete walls were then constructed to enclose the area to a height that reaches 10-feet on the east end as the wall follows the slope of the lot. Finally, clay soil was trucked in and compacted as it was brought in to fill the entire area to within a foot of the top of the wall. The soil compaction is critical so that the ground can hold the weight of the entire memorial without any ground settling or shifting.
The final cost will most likely run in excess of $100,000 for the first phase which includes replacing parts of the city sidewalks on the west and north sides of the memorial site that had to be taken out or were damaged during the initial phase of construction.
For now, the entire memorial site will continue to be enclosed with steel fencing panels to close off the area until additional work begins on the memorial next year to include a 42-inch high permanent fence on top of the wall.
“It was decided to move forward with the initial first phase early in the memorial construction process to prepare the site so the actual memorial construction could begin as soon as the necessary money is raised. Additionally, it would also allow the memorial construction work to be phased in over a period of time as the money is being raised, “ Kathol said.
Currently, through individual and business donations of $75,000 and the sponsoring and adoption of veterans at $150 per veteran, the money raised for the project so far is $168,000, which is helping to fund the initial first phase of site preparation.
“We truly appreciate those individuals and businesses who have stepped up already with a monetary donation and for those individuals and families who have either sponsored or adopted a veteran or a number of veterans. In addition, we appreciate those individuals and businesses who have donated their time, equipment and have absorbed the costs working on the project to date,” said Kathol.
A total of 632 veterans have either been sponsored or adopted bringing in $95,000 of the $168,000 in revenue to date.
The ultimate goal is to try and get 1,200 veteran names to be placed on the memorial monuments, Kathol said.
“It is difficult to come up with a total comprehensive list of all the veterans who originated or who have any affiliation with the Hartington area over the past 135 years as that list does not exist,” he said.
A veteran list was developed from a number of different sources and currently stands at 1,575 veteran names but is still considered to be well short of what the actual number is thought to be. Many veterans not on the current list are being sponsored and received daily, allowing the veteran list to grow as more people hear about the planned memorial.
“We are so dependent upon current family members living in the Hartington area and those living away to spread the word and research their family history to identify and sponsor their veteran family members, ancestors or a friend for the memorial. Also, with just a veteran name to go by on the list, it is often difficult to research and find a family contact or a connection that would consider sponsoring the veteran. This is especially true with the older WW1 and WWII veterans and where the family name has died out over the years from the area and as families have moved away,” Kathol said.
Recently, a letter was sent out to the Hartington High graduates from 1950 – 2000 along with a veteran sponsorship form to promote awareness and interest in sponsoring a veteran. A similar mailing has just gone out to 2,500 Cedar Catholic and Holy Trinity graduates, as well.
“In addition to the mailings, we want to exploit social media as much as possible with a website and Facebook to reach as many people as possible in order to try and reach our goal of 1,200 veterans sponsorships by April 2021, “ Kathol said.
A veteran sponsorship form can be found at the Hartington Post Office and City Hall, the County Treasurer’s office, Burnell’s Foodtown, Casey’s, Stop’n Go and the Hartington banks or you can go to the website at www.hartingtonveterans.com and print a form.
A major fundraising campaign will begin yet this year and extend into early next year and together with the anticipated revenue generated by the additional veteran sponsorships, the hope is that the anticipated $250,000 needed to complete the memorial project can be raised by next spring.
The project will unfortunately not be able to meet the original completion date of November 2021, as it is now taking seveneight months for the monument company to order and receive the granite. It then has to be cut to the specific size, engraved and finally placed in the memorial.
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