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Richland County commissioners hear Gold Star update

Oct 25 2019
Al Lawrence | Mansfield News Journal

MANSFIELD - Plans are ahead of schedule for a Nov. 18 dedication ceremony for a Mansfield Gold Star Families Memorial Monument on the grounds in front of the Richland County Courthouse and Administration Building. Local Gold Star committee chair Jared Smith gave a project update to the Richland County commissioners at their regular meeting on Thursday.

“Everything is going extremely well,” Smith said. “The electrical is being done right now for the lighting and, with the monument install, they’re doing the laser etching of the memorial. And once that’s complete, they’ll do the sandblasting. And once the sandblasting is done, we’ll have more of a time frame for when the monument will be installed.”

Once the monument is on site, Smith said it will be wrapped to protect it and keep it from public view until the ceremony. Just before dedication, the Hershel “Woody” Williams Medal of Honor Foundation, which created the memorial program, will bring a form-fitting cover that will be better for the unveiling.

Smith said local fundraising has reached $49,000, which is well over the $40,000 that was needed to pay for the memorial.

“Since we’re so close to $50,000, I’d love to see it get to $50,000 so whatever extra money that we bring in ends up going to the Hershel “Woody” Williams Medal of Honor Education Foundation and go to the Gold Star children’s scholarships,” he said.

A total of 32 businesses, organizations, families and individuals have already contributed to the project.

Smith said all donors of $20 or more will be recognized at the dedication. Featured speakers for the event will be Ohio Department of Veterans’ Services director, Major Deborah Ashenhurst and Hershel “Woody” Williams, who started the foundation and is the last living Medal of Honor recipient from the battle of Iwo Jima.

Other participants include the Richland County commissioners, the Lexington and Saint Peter's high school choirs, Ohio Blue Star Mothers second vice president Lynn Feldman, Ohio VFW immediate past commander David Root, Pastor Dan Zediker of Mission Point Church, bagpiper Richard Schuller, the Richland County Joint Veterans Council for a 21-gun salute, Summit County Assistant Prosecutor Raymond Hartsough playing taps and area Gold Star families. There also will be an invitation-only lunch, organized by the Linden Road Presbyterian Church, taking place at the United Methodist Church across the street from the courthouse.

Smith said about 50 known Gold Star families from Central and Northwest Ohio will be invited to attend the dedication, although any Gold Star family member is welcome. He said he expects anywhere from 300 to 500 people to be on hand, if the weather is good.

That brought a concern about parking from county maintenance director Chuck Minich. He felt there isn’t enough parking around the courthouse, even if the agencies and courts clear their dockets and a new parking area for jurors at South Adams Street and Park Avenue West is completed.

“We have ‘Final Fridays’ in downtown Mansfield where 10,000 people come and there’s enough parking and the municipal lot is only two blocks away,” commissioners’ chairman Tony Vero pointed out. “Five hundred people is not small for this lot, but in the grand scheme of things it’s not a lot of people.”

The monument dedication will start promptly at 11 a.m. Nov. 18, rain or shine. The Gold Star program honors families who have members who died while serving in the military — from the founding of the United States to the present.

Following the dedication, Smith said responsibility for future programming involving Gold Star families and the Mansfield Gold Star Memorial will be turned over to another local organization.

“We want this to be a jewel that the community is continually proud of and used for recognition and education of our Gold Star families,” he said.