On behalf of the Veteran's Memorial Committee, we would like to give a "shout out" to an amazing group of men, their sons and grandsons, the Sons of the American Legion (SAL) of the St. Ansgar Legion Post!
When the new courthouse was planned, the Mitchell County Veterans Memorial needed to be relocated. As part of the planning process, the Board of Supervisors made the removal, storage and relocation part of the entire plan with the architectural firm FEH. The Veterans Memorial Committee was assured by Architect Don Seymour the memorial plaza would be returned as the original design and he would work with the committee in doing so.
Unfortunately, Don Seymour and company FEH, did not honor that agreement and instead made the decision for the plantings and the entire landscaping area. Neither the Veterans Memorial Committee nor the supervisors played a part in that decision. The contractor chose the landscaping firm and the landscaping put in place did not reflect the original, much of it has not survived.
Since the courthouse was dedicated, our committee has had contact with the architect regarding their failure to honor the agreement to work with our committee and asked they have a financial stake in making right their decision. They refused and did not even respond to a registered letter from the committee.
The wall behind the plaza area was added to accommodate the donor plaques that had previously been on the outside wall on the front of the old courthouse. We found the prolonged heat of the sun would damage the plaques if placed on the west side of the wall, therefore, they were placed on the back or east side of the wall. Our committee worked with Unique Signs to come up with a design for the front of the wall that would include lettering and plaques that would designate the five branches of the service.
Over the past year and a half we have raised the funds through grants from Shop on State, Osage Rotary, Osage Lions, the five American Legion posts of the county, the VFW and private individuals to do the lettering, the plaques and return the landscaping to the original design.
And now to the efforts of the Sons of American Legion. The estimate for replacing the landscaping included the removal of the plantings, the dead material and the mulch, more than the funds we had; we needed to find a way to remove these at no cost and prepare the area for planting.
A conversation with Jon Koster about this project, brought an answer, The SAL would do that, just tell them when.
The day of Autumn Artistry, a contingent of SAL members arrived at the scene, complete with all the equipment, and made short work in removing the plantings and mulch and hauling it away in spite of the rain. Grandpa Chuck Holmes even had his grandson, Kason Byre from Mason City, manning the wheelbarrow. Chuck said he was enrolling Kason as a member of the SAL and this was his way of paying for that membership. Garrett Koster, a charter member of the SAL, was another of the young men assisting. They have 74 members.
Upon completion of their work, I expressed our appreciation for a job well done and their response was "we were happy to do it for our veterans." The St. Ansgar Legion and the community can be proud to have such a group serving their organization and community. Not only did their work enable us to have sufficient funds for the landscaping, the SAL had also contributed to our fund raising for the entire project. Too often we forget the contributions made by volunteers and organizations such as this.
Happy Acres will soon be returning the site to its original splendor. The Veterans Memorial Committee is thankful for the cooperation of the Mitchell County Board of Supervisors and Dave Hartogh for their efforts as well in completing this project.
Betty McCarthy, Chair Veterans Memorial Committee