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Farmington Veterans Memorial is coming soon

After decades of talking and generations of planning, Farmington is finally going to get a Veterans Memorial. And the community will get it sooner rather than later.

On Monday, vets memorial committee members shared the committee's progress with the Farmington City Council. By this time next year, those same committee members should be planning a dedication ceremony.

The memorial features a statue of a soldier saluting a folded flag. It includes a couple of benches, a water fountain and pavers that can be purchased by residents and engraved with the names of men and women who have served in the US Armed Forces. A sign is already erected on the site where the memorial will be constructed on the west side of Rambling River Park.

According to committee chairman Leon Orr, ground will be broken for the memorial in late June or early July. Most of the preliminary work is going to be done this year, with the concrete being poured and the surrounding turf being installed. Bachman's is providing a consultant to help the committee design the landscaping around the memorial.

Next year, the committee will start to install the pavers that accompany the memorial. As of May 14, approximately 120 pavers had been sold, at $350 each, to recognize the men and women of Farmington who are serving or have served in the United States military. On the list are three past mayors of Farmington, as well as several past business people and a host of community members.

"The pavers cover the deceased, the living, the young, the old," Orr said. "There's even a person who was in World War I on there."

There have been a few modifications to the original plan for the memorial, but the overall plan remains the same. The committee has secured numerous donations for flagpoles, the landscaping and the excavating, which helps defray the cost of the monument. All told, the committee has raised nearly half of its initial $207,000 goal.

The bigger items - like the bronze statue of the soldier saluting the 6,000-pound, granite flag - will be included in the next year's fundraising goals. While the committee would like to see those items included from the start, they are pieces that can be added over time if necessary, Orr said.

The committee has also decided to place a showcase on the memorial site. In that case, the group plans to post stories of Farmington soldiers who lost their lives in combat or who were taken as prisoners of war.

"Just seeing a name etched in stone is sometimes cold," Orr said, "so we want to tell their stories when we can."

Farmington city council members are in support of the project.

"I think that it's a great investment in our community," council member Christy Jo Fogarty said.

Committee members are considering options for the insurance of the memorial. One option is to work with CEEF, and to use the local group's nonprofit status to obtain a better price for insuring the memorial. Mayor Todd Larson sits on the CEEF board, and indicated he would work with the community group to help the memorial committee get the insurance it needs. In addition, the city of Farmington will put $10,000 toward the memorial.

With the council's blessing Monday, memorial committee members can now make the necessary arrangements to break ground on the project this summer.

The goal, VFW commander Ron Ersfeld said, is to hold a dedication ceremony at the Veterans Memorial as part of the 2013 Memorial Day observance.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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