SPOONER, WI -- There are committees, and there are committees.
Happily, for the Veteran's Memorial Waterfront Park in Spooner, their committee has been on the ball and cranking out success after success for the past 21 years.
You might say the entire endeavor might have never been done if it wasn't for Pete and Betty Hubin. They were members of the Spooner Lions. When the club was approached with an idea of starting a veteran's park on city-owned land tucked into the Tommy Thompson Fish Hatchery land on Highway 63, they thought it a credible suggestion. Five years later, the committee split with the Lions and became its own entity.
Twenty-one years later, this committee of nine has accomplished much more than initially planned, going far beyond anyone's expectations.
From the short road, Kronland Drive, back to the public fishing pier and picnic tables, the area is filled with classy monuments engraved with names of local fallen soldiers. There are also pavers that represent those who served and survived from the area.
Several years ago, a project that looked like a quick and beautiful addition to the park was added. It was an exact replica of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier that took almost two years to complete with lots of setbacks. Now it stands majestically in place, and vehicles from many states have stopped to visit the site.
The latest project from the committee was installed on Thursday, November 4. Despite the cold wind, two men, Rodney and Charlie, from the Little Falls Granite Works in Minnesota, arrived to begin their work that took almost an hour and a half to finish. During that time, they unloaded and set up a 6000-pound obelisk and its 1500 pound base on the previously poured five-sided concrete base.
The glistening black granite is from India. Each of the five sides represents one of the first five wars that involved the United States, from the Revolutionary War through World War 1. Four other concrete pads have already been poured for four more monuments coming sometime next year. They will honor World War 2, Korea, Vietnam, and the Gulf Wars.
The original monument is eight feet tall. The other four will be a petite four feet, also cut from granite from India.
Standing guard at the Park is still the original figure donated by Roscoe Bower early in the park's history. This idea led to the life-size figures at the front of the park, each representing a branch of the service.
After the base was in, leveled, and secured, a steel rod was placed in its middle to give the top piece added security and alignment. As the heavy obelisk was beginning to swing slowly over to the base, one of the straps broke, much to the shock of the small crowd gathered to watch.
According to one of the men setting the monument, it wasn't unusual to have a piece drop and break at just this part of the construction. “We do a lot of cemetery work, and because the old standard square headstones have been elevated to include designs of objects like huge angels with outstretched wings, they are really tricky to install. It's always a challenge to know where to put the straps. This obelisk was a challenge because of its shape, but thank goodness all that broke was one of the straps."
The two stonemason delivery men didn't leave until the new monument had a bead of glue applied around the base and the granite polished to a high gloss finish.
When all was ready, three committee members lined up for a photo, Jim Dienstl, and Pete, and Betty Hubin. All were smiling over another job well done, and all were paid for by donations.
Speaking of donations, they are always welcome. Landscaping is constantly being upgraded, worn and torn flags eventually need to be replaced, and other updates are a regular job. If you would care to contribute, send a check to SVMC, P.O. Box 94, Spooner, Wisconsin 54701. They will send you a receipt for your taxes.
It looks like the park will be complete after the last four monuments are set. Still, you've just got to know that this dynamic committee will be up to something else eventually. Success is what they do, and they do it so well.