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Winters Memorial springs forward
Efforts to create a Winters Leadership Memorial and Veterans Plaza continue to move forward, drawing interest even from outside the Ephrata community.
That was part of the message Rebecca Gallagher brought to Ephrata Borough Council Monday night as she updated members on the progress of raising funds necessary to make the monument a reality. Gallagher is co-chairwoman of project efforts by Downtown Ephrata Incorporate (DEI).
The group plans to begin construction to erect a reproduction of the Maj. Richard Winters Leadership monument at the center of a new memorial plaza by the entrance of the borough’s linear trail near Fulton Street by next spring in hopes of completing the project in time for the anniversary of D-Day, June 6, 2015.
“That fundraising numbers are what they are is impressive considering actual official fundraising efforts have not yet begun,” said Gallagher. “This was only through word of mouth. That says something about how excited [people] are about our project. These are even from groups as far off as Erie, and individual donors from as far as Arizona and Florida.”
To date, the group has raised a total of $23,325. Of that, $18,575 has come through general donations with another $4,750 coming through memorial brick sales. The artist for the monument, Steven Spears, has been paid $30,000 of his total $90,000 fee. Of that amount, Co-Chairman Scott Shelley gave Spears an initial $15,000 to secure the statue and another $15,000 has been paid through funds raised so far. The goal is to be able to pay Spears $5,000 per month but Gallagher added that he has been very flexible in that payment plan if payments cannot be made every month.
“When we are in a position to, we will need to pay Scott back those funds, less $1,500 he has pledged as a ‘Foundation Donor’ and to purchase two bricks,” added Gallagher.
That said, the group has a bank balance of $8,556.33. What is not reflected in that amount are those bricks which have been ordered but not yet paid for. Bricks cost $250 each.
The group is in its final stages of negotiating two contracts; one between DEI and the artist; and the second between DEI and the borough.
Fundraising activities are now about to go into overdrive in hopes of staying on track to start work next spring. In addition to selling the remainder of the 330 bricks needed for the project, the group is soliciting local business owners and community leaders for support. Various veterans groups have also been contacted, as have all representatives in Harrisburg and Washington, D.C.
“We have the support of Sen. Pat Toomey’s office in helping us to seek out and apply for government grants,” explained Gallagher. “We also have a member of our team looking for other private grants we can apply for, including with the Brossman Foundation.”
Efforts will also include special events that are in the early planning stages. Those include a golf tournament and dinner, setting up a booth at the Reading WWII Air Show along with Larry Alexander, a VIP reception and screening of the documentary “Hang Tough,” a WWII reenactment event and luminary sales and lighting event along the linear trail.
“We had truly hoped to be further along by this point,” added Gallagher, “But we are still on track to start in spring 2015, with targeted completion D-Day June 6, 2015.”
Originally the group had planned to begin construction this spring.
Council President Dale Hertzog asked about the tax-free status of donations. All donations are indeed tax free, according to Gallagher. Checks are made payable to DEI, which is a 501-3c non-profit organization.
“Have you estimated the total cost of the project,” questioned Borough Manager Bob Thompson.
Gallagher said initial estimates of between $300,000 and $400,000 were deliberately high so as to not have the group blind-sided when it goes out to bid. Under that plan, $90,000 was planned for the artist, another $100,000 to construct the site and the remaining $100,000 for site maintenance.
“Even though the progress may not be what you’d like, I think the progress and contribution of materials, work etc. that you have garnered is commendable,” noted councilman Tony Kilkuskie.
In other borough council news, there was no further discussion or action taken on the matter reported last week regarding how to deal with borough electrical costs being more than twice the amount budgeted for January. As reported last week, council and namely the Municipal Enterprises Committee are waiting to see how February and perhaps March figures play out before deciding whether to absorb the overage through the borough’s reserve fund, spread the shortage out across the balance of the year through the power cost adjustment or some combination of both.
For additional information on Ephrata Borough Council, visit their website at www.ephrataboro.org.
Gary P. Klinger welcomes your feedback via email at email@example.com or on Twitter @GPKlinger.