Work continues on veterans memorial

Work continues on veterans memorial by M. Jill Karolevitz Each year, veterans all across the country are remembered � on Veterans Day in November and on Memorial Day in May. But as the Clay County Veterans Memorial comes closer to reality, area servicemen and women will have a permanent honor that will stand in tribute to their service every day of the year.

Work is continuing on the memorial, located on the southeast corner of the Clay County Courthouse grounds. Designed by architect Sandy Dickenson, it will feature the three monuments donated to the city in 1995 by the late Kenneth Mockler, the American flag, service flags for the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard, and the veterans monument from Prentis Park. Benches and landscaping will surround the patio area which can be accessed at the corner of Main and High streets, or the north courthouse parking lot.

�Progress is slow, but the people who are working on the memorial have full-time jobs, so they work when they can � on weekends or evenings,� said Leo Powell, a member of the Clay County Veterans Memorial Committee.

Most of the concrete work has been completed � the majority done by Chuck Taggart � and bases have been dug for the flag poles. Wiring conduits for the lighting were recently bored out by City of Vermillion crews and a plan is in place for landscaping.

Luken Memorials in Yankton has refurbished the monuments and constructed the benches from the old sandstone steps from the courthouse when they were replaced.

Wiring for the lights will be completed soon by Powell and a crew from Clay Union Electric. Digging bases for the memorials and lights has yet to be finished, as does the construction of the steps to the memorial.

�That will be the biggest project,� Powell said. �Mike Taggart and Shorty Hanson will be working on that. They will cut 16 feet each way from the southeast corner of the wall, turn the wall in and build steps for access.�

When the time is right, the monuments will be moved by Clay Union Electric and Luken Memorials.

In addition to moving the monuments, finishing touches for the memorial include scoring the concrete patio and staining the blocks after a year of curing.

The Veterans Memorial Committee has been working to raise funds for the completion of the monument since its inception.

�We�ve raised about $25,000, but $10,000 is still needed,� Powell said. �We originally estimated the project to cost $50,000, but the total will be less since we�re using local labor when they have the time.�

Anyone is invited to contribute to the memorial�s construction, Powell added. Donations can be mailed to the City of Vermillion, Attn. Veterans Memorial, 25 Center Street, Vermillion, SD 57069. Checks should be made payable to the City of Vermillion/Veterans Memorial.

Any amount is welcome and those who donate $50 or more will receive a certificate listing the amount of their donation and their names or who the donation is in memory of. There will be no names on the memorial itself.

The idea for the Clay County Veterans Memorial started several years ago when Darrel Christopherson and Warren Morse approached the city and county with the idea. It will serve as a monument to veterans of all wars ? World War I, World War II, the Korean Conflict, Vietnam and Desert Storm. Once the memorial is constructed, its location and design will serve as a peaceful place for the public to rest, have lunch and ponder the meaning of the memorial itself.

�This is something that will be there forever to honor Clay County�s veterans,� Powell said. �Along with the veterans who have died, we want to pay tribute to those who are still living, along with their families. They should all be honored.�

The City of Vermillion donated the Prentis Park monument, along with Mockler�s monuments, which were originally located at his home east of Vermillion. Clay County will maintain the grounds and the City of Vermillion will provide electricity and maintain the lighting for the new memorial.

Appointed by Mayor Bill Radigan in 1995, Clay County Veterans Memorial Committee members include Powell, Bill Willroth Sr., Christopherson, Morse, Robert Brown, Fern Morse, Ralph Westergaard, Dave Wherry, C.J. Stewart, Mike Hauck and American Legion Commander Jerry Anderson. Radigan is also a member and the late O.A. �Gus� Amundsen, Dick Hirsch and Harvey Hanson served on the committee as well.

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