Memorial Wall Concept Presented To Wawasee School Board
By David Slone
SYRACUSE — There are different ways to honor America’s veterans, and Wawasee School Board was presented with a concept design on Tuesday, April 18, to honor veterans from the school district in a more permanent way.
Superintendent Dr. Steve Troyer reminded the board, “We’ve been working with Dave Baumgartner to come up with a design that the school and community could get behind to recognize heroes that have gone through Wawasee. And, they’ve done a lot of work on this and are ready to present some of their ideas and findings.”
Baumgartner said they’ve been working on Warrior Field Veteran Memorial Courtyard. The designer is Doug Hoerr, a 1974 Wawasee High School graduate. Hoerr received his bachelor of arts in landscape architecture from Purdue University and is the co-founder of Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architecture Co. The company has been in business for over 32 years and won over 100 national and international awards. Baumgartner listed a number of the firm’s projects, including the Lombardy Plaza outside of Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. Doug’s mother, Margurette Hoerr, was the first woman to serve on the Wawasee School Board.
The second slide was a brief history of Harry J. Michael, a Medal of Honor recipient who went to Milford High School. The idea for the Memorial Wall originally stemmed from Milford resident Rich Rhoades’ request for Wawasee to memorialize Michael, Rhoades’ uncle.
“This is some examples of different types of ways that we can memorialize different people that are veterans,” Baumgartner said while showing a slide. “I want to emphasize to everyone that this memorial includes all of our veterans. All of them. So, there are a number of different ways that we can get this done.”
One way would be bricks with veterans’ names on them.
Baumgartner said over Christmas vacation, Doug Hoerr came down from Chicago with two of his associates. They took measurements, pictures and brought a drone in to take an overhead shot.
With the concession stand and restrooms to the right and the home grandstands to the left, he said there’s a big open area there that is the plaza area and that’s where they would like the memorial to be placed. Baumgartner showed concept design photos of what the memorial would look like from different angles and in daylight and nighttime.
“It’s a nice big open area, which makes it very accessible to lots of different people so that they can go up and see it and experience the veteran memorial stadium,” he said.
One type of plaque to put the names of people who served the country was also shown.
“The people that can go up on the wall are certainly all of our veterans. We obviously have some veterans that have distinguished themselves. Harry would be an example of it, being a Medal of Honor winner, but we also have Purple Heart winners, we have Silver Star winners, Bronze Star winners, things like that, from our community,” Baumgartner stated.
On the question of cost, he said he took the plans to Bruce Jackson of T.L. Jackson Construction and was given an estimate of $250,000.
“That’s a lot of money. I know it. I understand that,” Baumgartner said. “But, I also understand, and have already started, to look into different ways that the money can be raised.”
He said federal and state grants are possible and he has some background in writing grants. Other possibilities are corporate sponsorships and donations from the public.
“All of this money, as we collect it, would be funneled into an account here, set up by the Wawasee people that handle your money,” Baumgartner said.
Once all the funds have been raised, that’s when the trigger on the project could be pulled, he said.
“I truly believe that we can make this thing happen. But the big key to that is the term ‘we’ because it’s got to be a community thing. It’s got to come from all three of our communities, and I think that it exists within all three of our communities to get this project done,” Baumgartner stated.
The project isn’t just about today or tomorrow, he said, but generations.
“We can teach our kids about our heroes that have served the country, men and women, through this. This could be a place where Memorial Day and Veteran Day programs can be held. There could be tour buses stop by to take a look at this because it’s going to be that beautiful,” he said, adding that there were all kinds of possibilities with it.
Wawasee School Board member Mike Wilson asked if they were going to try to get all the names of every veteran from the Wawasee communities who graduated and how. Baumgartner said he’d first go to the different American Legions, but families could also request a name for the wall.
Troyer said there’s still a lot of details to be worked out, financially and otherwise, before it will be brought to the board for a final recommendation for approval.
“We will continue to work on it. Their team will continue to work on it. It is a good update to see and good to see that the project is moving forward. We continue to be supportive of that and appreciate your work on that,” Troyer concluded.