Today we're sitting with Major, U.S. Army Retired, Ella Parker from the Veteran's Service Office at our favorite coffeehouse, The Dock Coffee, to catch up on the progress of the placing of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier replica in Spooner in Veteran's Park.
If you remember, it was a church in Madison who first made the replica of the Tomb for the Memorial Day events at our State Capitol, and Washburn County was privileged to obtain it to be placed in the Waterfront Park dedicated to local Veterans on highway 63 on the south end of Spooner.
It, with its 16 x 22-foot footprint, will join the original military memorial which features life-sized statues of servicemen/women of all branches of the military, walls, benches, and pavers engraved with the names of local veterans.
“The original memorial is under the auspices of the Spooner Veteran's Memorial Committee who created the current Veterans Memorial at the park. The City of Spooner maintains the park and the landscaping. The new memorial will also be overseen by the Committee, and they have put a price tag of $40,000 to do the needed work before the Tomb is delivered and then prepared for its outdoor setting.
So far the money raised is $25,445.00, and now the final push is on to raise enough money to break ground starting this spring/summer.”
Ella, is there a target date for the competition of this project?
“Well, the completion date depends on a few factors. We are still waiting for all the bids for concrete to come back, plus we need to "weatherize" the Tomb replica so it can withstand our harsh Wisconsin Elements. We want the Tomb replica to be able to stand though weather and time, so the best way we feel to accomplish this is to get the Tomb replica fiberglassed. The Committee is currently seeking out a business that can do this. We are hoping to break ground starting this year and get all the concrete walkways and Tomb replica base completed. The fiberglassing of the Tomb replica is going to be expensive, so we need to continue to raise enough money to cover the costs of that. The bottom line is, we want this project to be done right, not fast.”
So far, how have you and fellow Veteran Service Officer, U.S. Army Staff Sargent, Lisa Powers raised money for this project, how did you do it, and how much money do you still need?
“After the Spooner Veterans Memorial Committee accepted the Tomb replica from the Washburn County Veterans Service Office, Lisa and I have been assisting the Committee in raising money to get the project completed. This is a Donation Only project, and all funds raised go exclusively to the Tomb replica project. Since we both work full time it is hard for us to plan and execute a single large fundraiser, so we have been sending out letters and brochures to local and state businesses, running meat raffles hosted at local taverns, setting up booths at the fair and using our veteran network. The veteran networking has been very useful in getting the word out. Some of the examples of our local veterans leading the way are Casey Stoeberl, an employee at 3M in Cumberland spearheaded a fundraiser at his office that raised $700.00, the WITC Rice Lake Veterans Group selling flags during their annual open house with proceeds going towards the Tomb, and multiple Veterans Organizations donating money from Northern Wisconsin. Veterans Sarge Deboer and David Parker from the Springbrook VFW post #10568 have helped us out tremendously by pounding the pavement and going door to door to local businesses. The Springbrook VFW also generously donated $5000.00. We have also been using the local papers and news sources like DrydenWire, the Washburn County Register and the Spooner Advocate to run articles and advertise our functions, all of which have been fabulous.
We are incredibly thankful for all of the generous donations we have received from the wonderful businesses in the area.
We have currently raised $25,445.16 of our $40,000.00 goal.”
Will you explain the different categories of donations and what happens to the names of people who donate?
“I would love to. There are five categories we have for donor recognition. The names of these categories are derived from distinguished military medals awarded to military personnel. The categories are the Meritorious Service Level - $100.00-249.00, the Bronze Star Level - $250.00-499.00, the Legion of Merit Level - $500.00-999.00, the Silver Star Level - $1000.00-2499.00, and the Distinguished Service Level - $2500.00 and up.
There will be a permanent sign placed at the park giving recognition to individuals and business that donated under the categories. Donations can also be made “In honor of” or “in memory of” that will be listed this way on the sign.
All donors will also be invited to the grand opening of the Tomb replica at Waterfront Park.
I would like to thank all of those who have currently donated for their support:”
You mentioned that the donations need to be either sent to your office or dropped off during business hours. Where are you located and are these donations tax deductible?
“We are located at 1600 County Highway H in Spooner (co-located with the Washburn County Highway Department) across from the new Spooner Hospital. We are open Monday-Thursday from 7:30 – 5:30. All the donations go to the Spooner Veterans Memorial Committee, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization which are tax deductible. When I receive a donation, I log it in, give it to the Committee Treasurer for deposit, and send a thank you letter and a receipt back to the donor.”
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
“I would like to thank the Spooner Veterans Memorial Committee and the City of Spooner for taking on this incredible project, the excellent support we have gotten from the community, and the hard work our local veterans and the veterans organizations have done helping get the word out and raise money to make this project a reality.
And I would like to remind people that, much like the Vietnam memorial, “The Wall that Heals”, and the Liberty Bell replicas on display throughout our great country, our vision is to bring an important piece of history into our corner of the world.
People who would not otherwise be able to get to Washington D.C. To see the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier can honor and remember those who have served and sacrificed so much for us.”
About: The Dock Talk is an every-other Tuesday segment where we chat with a member of our community in a Q-and-A format over a cup of coffee at our favorite coffeehouse, The Dock Coffee. If you would like information on how you can be featured in an upcoming Dock Talk, please email DrydenWire@gmail.com.