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Groundbreaking ceremony conducted in Watseka for Gold Star Families Memorial Monument

Sep 19 2023
Carla Waters | Times-Republic

Ground was broken the afternoon of Sept. 17 at Legion Park for the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument.

The organization is one step closer in making the memorial a reality.

One of the organizers, Scott Allen, gave an update on the project, noting that they want to get the concrete poured before the weather gets too cold.

The cash donations are at about $32,000 as of Sept. 17, which is a little over half of the amount needed to get the granite for the memorial ordered.

The granite comes from India, he said. “It takes about six to eight weeks to get it in country, then they process and do what they need to and then it is six to eight months to get the granite here.”

Bob Tincher is donating the concrete foundation work. Jack and Jackie Lavicka are donating the landscaping for the project. A.N. Webber has donated the transportation for the the granite. “When it’s ready they are going to go to the manufacture, pick it up and deliver it back here,” he said. Tincher and the Lavickas were able to be at the ceremony.

A red thermometer next to the banner at the park shows the progress of fundraising.

The American Legion Post 23 Honor Guard presented the colors. Tim Rehmer sang “The Star Spangled Banner”.

Pastor Kevin Nourie of Crescent City, Donovan and Sheldon United Methodist Churches gave the prayer.

There were two representatives from the city of Watseka, Alderman Benny Marcier and Mayor John Allhands.

Allhands said, “Isn’t this a great park? I grew up in the last house on Fourth Street across from the Monument. This is going to be an excellent addition to the park. It just makes sense having it here with the Legion for this type of memorial. I want to thank the group for all of your hard work. The donations of time and talents, that’s a special thing that you folks are doing to.”

Organizer Alucia Marshall said the group hopes to have the monument up by next summer.

There have been some fundraisers, including a recent Jeep and motorcycle run on Sept. 9. Other events are planned to help with fundraising.

There is a local committee working on the project and the group is working through the Woody Williams Foundation, which helps to establish the memorial monuments throughout the country.

The local committee is made up of Tammy Allen (Gold Star Mother), Kris Hemp (Gold Star Mother), Eric West and Janet Doyle, with honorary board members Scott Allen and Alucia Marshall.

The Woody Williams Foundation is a 501 © 3 “That pursues specific endeavors and goals through the vision of Medal of Honor Recipient Hershel “Woody” Williams.” The foundation “encourages, with the assistance of the American public and community leaders, establishing permanent Gold Star Families Memorial Monuments in communities throughout the United States, conducting Gold Star Families Outreach across the country, and providing Living Legacy scholarships to eligible Gold Star Family members.”

According to the website, Williams honored and served Gold Star Families throughout his life and the foundation helps that legacy continue.

The foundation collects the money for the monuments that are being planned. “They have a bank account and for each of the monuments they have sub accounts,” Scott said.

The foundation suggests raising $100,000 to help with not only erecting the monument but also to take care of the maintenance, and other additions, such as a bench and/or lighting.

People can make donations through the website at Woody Williams Foundation, Inc. | Kindful.

People can also ask questions by emailing or call 815-671-5494.