WELLSUBRG - A fundraising campaign for the Brooke County Veterans Memorial Foundation is off to a good start, with a big boost from two businesses.
Chesapeake Energy and Main Street Bank are doing what they can to help the community, as each of the businesses presented checks to the BCCMF on Aug. 17 to help kick off a fundraising campaign for the park.
In April 2004, the concept gained new strength after the death of Marine Lance Cpl. Michael J. Smith, who was killed in Iraq on April 18, 2004.
Brooke County Veterans Memorial Foundation President Howard Armstrong welcomed those in attendance and offered thanks for the support the group has received.
During the last seven years, he said there has been a core group working on the project.
"They fought for us, now it's time we fight for them to make this happen," he said.
Costs associated with the project are expected to come in at around $220,000, and Armstrong added that, if the group can come up with at least $200,000 in pledges, not actual dollars, Main Street Bank will loan the money up front and allow the money to be paid back over a four-year period.
Nathan Stone, a field engineer for Chesapeake Energy, said it feels good to be able to present the starting dollars for the project. He gave a little background information on himself, adding he once was a part of the military as infantry.
"This company (Chesapeake) is a great company to work for," he added. "I can't think of a better way for us to show our support."
Representatives from Chesapeake Energy presented the $15,000 check to the BCVMP organization, then Main Street Bank gave $10,000.
Armstrong said the completion date, as of now, is set for Veterans Day 2012.
Plans call for the park, which will pay tribute to all Brooke County veterans, particularly those who died, to be established near the paddleboat pond at Brooke Hills Park.
It was inspired by the death of Marine Lance Cpl. Michael J. Smith, a Wellsburg native who was killed in a skirmish while serving in Iraq in 2004.
Joan Nicholson, his aunt, suggested it after Armstrong commented during a community memorial service for Smith that tribute should be paid to all of Brooke County's fallen servicemen.
Based partly on an idea suggested by Paul "Bud" Billiard, the group's publicity coordinator, the park's design involves a polished granite wall with five sections. Each will represent one of five military conflicts: World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam and Iraq/Afghanistan and bear the names of local service members who lost their lives in those conflicts.
Plans call also for a 6 foot to 7 foot statue of a soldier in a saluting position near two monuments. One will represent Flanders Field, the French battlefields where many American soldiers were killed during World War I; and the other, Arlington National Cemetery, the famous military cemetery maintained by the Army in Virginia.
The idea is to represent those buried abroad and at home, Billiard said.
The group also is seeking sponsors of granite pavers for the park. The cost is $150 for a paver, which is 8-by-18 inches and may be engraved with a message in memory or honor of a veteran or any loved one.
Anyone wishing to sponsor the Brooke County Veterans Memorial Park can do so through a minimum donation of $1,000 that can be paid during a four-year period, calling (304) 640-2224 or going online at www.brookeveteranspark.org.