HARTINGTON — The groundbreaking ceremony for the new Hartington Area Veterans Memorial is set for Memorial Day Weekend Saturday, May 23.
The event will be held at 4 p.m., at the site of the new memorial located in downtown Hartington, across the street from the Historic Hartington Hotel.
Currently, the event is planned to be open to all the area veterans and the public to attend. However, if the COVID-19 restrictions are still in place not allowing a public gathering of more than 10 people, the event will still take place but will be limited to just the eight people selected to turn over the first bit of dirt with the ceremonial shovels, while allowing for the required six foot of distance between each person.
If the normal Memorial Day courthouse and cemetery gatherings take place, then the groundbreaking event will also allow the public at large to attend. A determination is expected to be made a week in advance of Memorial Day as to whether the groundbreaking will be open to the public.
The new veteran’s memorial will be constructed in two phases.
The first phase should start in June and be completed this year. That will entail leveling the entire lot so the memorial area is all even with Broadway Avenue on the west. Currently, there is an eight-foot drop from the west to the east end of the lot. The existing dirt must also be hauled out because it is too sandy and is not suitable to meet the necessary compaction requirements to support the concrete floor and all the granite monuments.
The basement concrete floor of the old furniture store that was on the site for many years and is nine feet below the street grade must also be removed.
The next step will be to install a 24” wide and 42” deep concrete footing around the entire interior perimeter to support a 12” wide and 8’ high concrete wall where the far west end will be even with the current sidewalk and as the wall moves east, more of the wall will be exposed because of the natural slope of the lot resulting in an eight-foot wall totally exposed on the east portion of the memorial.
A 42-inch high black iron fence will be installed on the top of the wall.
After this work is completed, new quality dirt will be brought in to fill the entire memorial area cavity bringing the entire memorial area even with the sidewalk on the west end where the entrance to the memorial will also be located.
As the new dirt is brought in, it will need to be compacted so it meets the necessary compaction requirement to adequately support the memorial and prevent any future cement cracking or settling.
“We are having to go through a lot of time, effort and expense in getting the memorial area level, but it is worth it as the downtown location is ideal for our new veterans memorial,” said Project Manager Dan Kathol.
Phase Two is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2021 with a target completion date of October 2021. Meeting the target dates will be dependent on having raised the necessary funds through veteran sponsorships and donations from individuals, families and businesses which would also include any labor and material, and in-kind donations by contractors working on the project.
“The final design and the estimated cost of the new veteran’s memorial is still being worked out this summer and presented at a formal fund raising gathering planned for late summer of this year. Veteran sponsorships and adoptions at $150 per veteran are steadily coming in, and together with the donations received to date, are expected to cover the cost of Phase One,” Kathol said.
He said the group needs the veteran sponsorships and adoptions to steadily increase to be sure they can meet expenses for Phase One and begin to raise money for Phase Two.
As of now, there are about 1450 veteran names from the Hartington area dating back to the Civil War to the current time that are on the target list for sponsorships from primarily the Hartington, Fordyce, Menominee, St. Helena, Bow Valley and Obert/Maskell areas.
Since Bloomfield, Crofton, Wynot, Newcastle and Coleridge, and soon to be Randolph and Laurel, have or will have a veteran’s memorial, the target list does not include these towns, however, veteran names from these towns are welcome to be included in the Hartington veterans memorial, Kathol said.
The goal as part of the “No Veteran Left Behind” campaign is to have all the veteran sponsorships received by the end of 2020.
“To date, we have received about 300 veteran sponsorships which is 25 percent of our ultimate goal of 1,200 veteran names on the final monuments,” Kathol said. “Knowing that it will be difficult to achieve the full 1450 level. The list of veterans continues to grow as sponsorships are coming in for individuals who were missed on our initial list because they have moved away. We encourage individuals and families to get their sponsorships sent in early to help meet the ongoing expenses associated with the construction of the memorial.”
Area residents are encouraged to spread the word and research their family history to identify parents, grandparents, greatgrandparents, uncles, aunts and relatives who directly or indirectly have a connection with the greater Hartington area.
The veteran sponsorship forms can be found in several places around Hartington. They are at the Hartington Post Office and Hartington City Office, County Treasurer, Burnell’s Foodtown, Caseys, Stop’n Go and Keith’s Package Liquor.