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Veterans Memorial work continues

ABOVE: Work continues at the Martin County Veterans Memorial in Fairmont. Four statues are installed and others and being worked on. Engraving on the wall recently took place with more names to be added. Behind the wall, sidewalks are being added and construction of a ship is under works.

FAIRMONT– On Tuesday the Martin County Board of Commissioners heard several updates regarding the Veterans Memorial Project.

Chuck Mixson, a member of the Veterans Memorial committee, said that they will have a dedication for a bell that Woody Woodward donated. The bell will go on the ship’s bow and will be dedicated on the 4th of July.

“We’re also going to be honoring Senator Julie Rosen and past Representative Bob Gunther for supporting the bonding bill that helped us get this memorial done,” Mixson said.

He said the event that day will go from about 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and will include pork chops on a stick and entertainment.

Mixson also shared that last week during the inclement weather, the 75-foot flagpole cable snapped. He said they’re ordering the parts to fix it and are in need of someone to help them get the cable down.

While it costs about $2,500 a year to keep replacing the flags, Mixson said they have enough money for the next year thanks to donations from a number of local groups.

Mixson also gave an update on the statues. The plan is to have 10 statues in total with two being made every six months. Four are there now and while Mixson said the individual making them is behind, they’re still coming along.

He said the engraver came last week and put about half of the names on the back wall and will be back soon to do the rest of them and others as they come in.

S & J Excavating has been out there cutting out space for the sidewalks. Mixson said A-1 Concrete has been there as well and will be pouring the cement for the bow of the ship this week.

With the help of Sentence to Serve the gardens in the front have been weeded and cleaned up so that it’s ready for Memorial Day.

The board approved installation of silhouette statues at the memorial. There is one silhouette and two more coming that will temporarily be in the spot where the statues will go.

“Let’s keep moving on this. People want to see it done,” Commissioner Elliot Belgard said.

Jim Miller, a representative of the American Legion Post 36 of Fairmont, was also present. He said that the Legion Post 36 had a meeting this week and he wanted to present a proposal to the board.

Miller, who was on a committee formed to meet the requirements for installation and dedication of the Cobra helicopter, said there was an initial proposal to have individual donor plaques installed at the base of the concrete pad or foundation of the helicopter pedestal. He said the plaques have been purchased but not installed and that Post 36 will cover the costs to have them installed.

Belgard asked how they will be installed. Miller said they plan to use a hammer drill and affix them to the base around the pedestal.

“I hate to those plaques be the focal part of the helicopter,” said Commissioner Kathy Smith.

Miller said the original idea was to put the plaques directly flat on the pedestal but that some one the Martin County Veteran memorial Committee were opposed to it.

Commissioner Richard Koons asked where they would be and said he was worried about it being a tripping hazard or detrimental to wheelchairs.

“I think we need to see a little bit better plan before we can make a decision on how it will be installed. I think there’s a better way than laying them on the concrete,” Belgard said.

Smith again said she didn’t like the plaques being so prominent on the helicopter and noted that the plaques may not be made to be flat on the concrete.

While the commissioners agreed it would be nice to see it done before Memorial Day, they asked the Legion to hold off until they can agree where to place the plaques.

“We understood that it would take the county commissioner’s approval to accept or reject the proposal. We’re open to whatever,” Miller said.

He also said the Legion and VFW plan to have a Memorial Day program that will start at 9:30 a.m. at Veterans Park. It will include a parade that leads to the Veterans Memorial site, where a ceremony will take place. He said the Fairmont High School band will be participating and there will be TAPS and a gun salute.

Finally, Steve Chase, Veterans Memorial volunteer, presented a review of the Cobra Helicopter 2021-22 annual report.

“We have a lot of military people coming through. They’re not from Martin County. They don’t know names on the wall, but they do know the helicopter and they come specifically to see the helicopter. This is the most famous war bird in the state of Minnesota for all the combat it was in,” Chase said.

He showed a photo of the American Legion National Commander, who was recently in Fairmont, standing before the Cobra helicopter.

In other news, County Engineer Kevin Peyman shared that Trimont had moved to reject the offer to proceed with the Trunk Highway 4 Trail Improvements. At the May 3 county commissioner meeting, Peyman said they had opened bids for the project and had recommended to go forward with the low bid of $434,105.

However, Peyman said it was contingent upon approval of the Trimont City Council as the city’s share of the cost came in higher than expected.

While the board approved of awarding the bid on the May 3 meeting, contingent on the city’s approval, on Tuesday Peyman shared the council no longer wanted to proceed.

Commissioner Kathy Smith said she had learned from Peyman of a grant out there for a master plan for a county trail system.

Belgard asked what the next step would be if they wanted to pursue it. Peyman said the grant window is open now if they want to apply.

In other news, the board:

— Set a public hearing date of June 21 to consider a tax abatement request for Larry and Annette Bremer for new construction of a single family home in Fairmont.

— Approved a three-year contract between the Martin County Sheriff’s Office and Granada-Huntley-East Chain School District for a School Resource Officer. The contract will be paid 40 percent by the school district and 60 percent by the county.

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