Winters forecast Committee moves forward with leadership statue

By on July 17, 2013



, Staff Writer

"We have the support of the borough council (community services) committee and will keep moving forward with our efforts," said leadership statue committee co-chair Scott Shelley in regard to borough council’s July 11 community services committee meeting.

Last Thursday, the two committees discussed the future of the statue originally intended to be a likeness to Major Dick Winters and honor all veterans, after his daughter, Jill Peckelun, wrote a letter asking that it not be replicated and erected.

"We (the committee) all feel the same way. This is a figure for all vets, for all wars who have inspired us," Shelley explained.

"It’s in the (leadership statue) committee’s hands," said borough council member Tony Kilkuskie. "The committee meeting that the borough had last week considered the letter received from Jill and just wanted to review the borough’s position." During a June meeting the borough authorized the statue and that authorization was reaffirmed at the meeting despite the letter.

Peckelun wrote that her father would want other veterans to be honored and that the money could benefit veterans better than a statue. Peckelun also mentioned that the statue was specifically sculpted for Normandy and that the artist, Stephen Spears, was not permitted to replicate it.

Spears disagrees and insists he owns the rights to the statue. The non-refundable $15,000 the leadership committee raised for the statue has already been given to Spears. And although borough council approved the space for the statue, the main concern is if any liability exists.

Borough council simply authorized a leadership statue in the space at the head of the walking trail. Funding, including upkeep and maintenance, is the responsibility of the committee.

"This group is very very enthusiastic and continues to be enthusiastic because of the support they’re receiving from amazingly different and unconnected areas and people," said Kilkuskie. "They are encouraged by their initial efforts and not discouraged."

Shelley and Peckelun did communicate with one another and shared some common ground and thoughts, according to Thompson, but details of the conversation were being kept confidential.

"If they maintain lines of communication with the family maybe there will be opportunity to embrace the plaza and the group that wants to bring the statue," added Thompson.

The approval that was granted to the committee by the borough council was conditional, explained borough manager Robert Thompson, and the committee still needs to establish some sort of legal binding agreement, such as an agreement with the borough that identifies who pays for the upkeep.

"We were approached by an independent group and council took action to authorize a leadership statue," said Thompson. He also mentioned that the letter sent by Peckelun was discussed at the meeting. The committee insists that the statue is a leadership statue representing all veterans and not just Winters.

"Borough is concerned with making sure that liability is mitigated," said Thompson.

"The borough is very supportive of leadership and acknowledgment of veterans, past, present and future," added Thompson. "But this is a gray area."

What it boils down to, though, is whether the replication is legal or not and if the committee has an obligation to honor the family.

"We advise the committee to protect itself from any future litigation so they don’t invest their time and money into something that is not useable."

At the same time, the borough has not received any sort of statement saying the statue could not be replicated.

More STATUE, page A16

About Ephrata Review