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Turlock veterans groups come together to save memorial

Turlock veterans groups come together to save memorial

Above is the proposed design — drawn by WLC Architects — of the Veterans’ Plaza in front of the new Public Safety Facility, currently being built on the corner of Broadway and Olive in downtown Tur...


POSTED September 30, 2011 9:37 p.m.

When the plans were made for Turlock’s new Public Safety Facility, currently under construction on the corner of Broadway and Olive, a veterans’ memorial was incorporated in the design — something that was important to Mayor John Lazar, then-Police Chief Gary Hampton and the city’s organizations that serve veterans.

Then financing became an issue and the veterans’ memorial was cut from the plans in order to save money. But, that is not the end of the story.

When American Legion Rex Ish Post 88, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5059 and Disabled American Veterans Chapter 74 heard that the veterans’ memorial had been cut, they stepped in and pledged to pay for the entire project.

“It was pretty amazing,” Turlock Police Support Operations Manager and department liaison for the Public Safety Facility project Lani Smith said. “I was really encouraged. They came together and came through.”

So far, the American Legion has donated $15,000, the VFW Auxiliary has donated $10,000 and the DAV has pledged another $5,000 for the memorial. That $30,000 will go towards the total cost of installing the memorial’s infrastructure and plaza flag poles, which, according to Smith, is $36,085.

The Veterans’ Plaza, as it is now being called, is planned to include a concrete plaza area where flag poles will fly the colors of the five U.S. branches of service — Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. Once the basic plaza work is done, the local veterans’ organizations are hoping to install a monument — the exact details are still being decided.

The entire Public Safety Facility project — which will become the new home of both the Turlock Police and Fire departments, as well as house a community center — is expected to be completed in late 2012.

In the meantime, the veterans’ groups have been busy fundraising. Most of the funds already raised came from each organization’s annual Stanislaus County Fair vendor booth.

According to VFW Auxiliary President Rose Elliott, 1,000 hamburgers were sold each day of the 2011 fair at the organization’s annual burger booth.

“The (VFW) Ladies Guard created the secret sauce 30 years ago, (and) that’s why everybody comes,” Elliott said. “Everybody just works so hard for that 10 days.

“It’s been quite a journey for the Ladies Auxiliary, and we’re quite proud of what we’ve been doing,” she said about the group’s fundraising efforts for the veterans’ memorial.

While the VFW was serving up their famous burgers, the American Legion Post was helping it go down at their annual fair beer booth, and raising their initial $15,000 donation in the process.

“We thought it was extremely important to do this,” American Legion Commander Wardee Bruce said about his group’s efforts. “We all are going together to show the veterans here in Turlock do care what goes on in the community.”

Raising awareness that there are veterans organizations in Turlock who not only serve the community, but also offer support for new veterans, is one reason the Public Safety Facility memorial is so important, said DAV Past President Rosemary Lindsey.

“And to honor and memorialize the veterans,” Lindsey said. “Honor them for their sacrifices, for their service, along with the sacrifices made by their families.”

A ceremony to recognize the efforts of Turlock’s veterans organizations is being planned for later this year, said Smith. To contribute to the building of the veterans’ memorial, contact the American Legion, VFW or DAV.

To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail khacker@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.

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