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Watseka committee approves two measures to honor local veterans

Jul 23 2023
Carla Waters | Iroquois County's Times-Republic

The Watseka City Council finance committee July 18 approved two measures to honor local veterans.

One was provide $6,500 for military banners and the other was to donate $10,000 toward the Gold Star Families Memorial.

Watseka Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Amanda Hibbs presented the military banners program.

“I’m here tonight to see if the City of Watseka would support a Hometown Hero banner throughout our community,” she said.

She presented information about the program to the aldermen and also showed an example that currently is being used in Manteno.

“Other communities do this as well. I’ve been approached by a few citizens here in town that would like to see us incorporate this Hometown Hero banner throughout the Watseka area,” she said,

“These are to recognize local residents who are serving or area veterans who have served our country in the United States Armed Forces. This would be for active or past military personnel. The family members would purchase the banner to be hung. The reason I’m here asking the city for some help tonight is that we would need new hardware for the downtown light poles, because as you know the chamber currently has a banner programming hanging downtown. I would like to get a double bracket where two banners could be displayed at the same time. Our chamber banner could still hang and the Hometown Hero banner could hang as well.

“I’m here to ask the city council if they would support the chamber in giving us $6,500 to get this program up and running.“

She said she would do the rest of the work, including promoting the program to families who would wish to purchase a banner. The banners would be ordered through the chamber. She showed the aldermen the brochure and application to go with the program.

“We are hoping the banners will last three years,” she said. “They would be put up Memorial Day and taken down Veterans Day, so they wouldn’t be up year round.” The banners would be stored through the winter months.

“I think this would be a great addition to the Watseka area. I think this would support our service men and women, future and past,” she said.

Hibbs said the $6,500 would pay for the double bracket for the banners. They would fit on the 38 poles in the downtown area. The aldermen approved the purchase 8-0 with Alderman Scott Muench absent. Alderman Benny Marcia said the money could come out of the promotions line item.

Scott Allen and Scott Childress presented the Gold Star Families Memorial information.

Allen said, “I have the privilege and honor to work with the Woody Williams Foundation to get this monument brought to Watseka. It will be located at the north entrance to Legion Park.”

He explained that Gold Star Mothers were honored starting in World War I when mothers were losing their sons in battle. “Since then it’s become more broad now. Family. Brothers. Sisters. Fathers. Mothers. Aunt. Uncle. The monument itself reflects family.

“Woody Williams was a World War II veteran, Marine. He was a Medal of Honor recipient. He came back from World War II and was driving a taxi. He was charged with the duty of presenting mothers with the notice that their son had fallen in combat. He wanted to do more for the mothers so he co-founded this foundation have this monument placed throughout the United States. All 50 states and one territory are all involved now. There’s approximately 122 monuments already placed throughout the United States and 67 that are in progress. Watseka is one of them. We already have the authorization from the Woody Williams Foundation to have this placed, so it’s going to be placed regardless. We need to raise the money for that. Our goal is $100,000. The black granite itself is approximately $57,000, so we have to raise half of that before they will order that black granite.

“We are doing different fundraisers. This is one of them. We are doing a jeep and motorcycle run Sept. 9,” he said, noting that raffles and other fundraisers are also being conducted.

Allen said they are not asking for a specific amount from the city but asked that the city donate something.

He and Childress opened the banner that tells about the project, which will be in place until the memorial is placed. Allen said there are some Gold Star family members on the committee who believe the best place for the monument is Legion Park.

Allen said there are some donations in kind that have been offered, including the foundation for the monument and a trucking company to bring the granite to Watseka once it gets to that point. Approximately $3,300 in funds has been raised.

The committee approved a $10,000 donation, which will be paid out of the promotions line item. That donation was approved 8-0, with Muench absent.