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A memorial for all Rumford vets
RUMFORD -- Selectmen gave their approval for a project by Len Greaney to place a memorial in Veterans' Park.
Town Manager Carlo Puiia said that the measure in contingent upon permission from the Rumford Parks Commission, who are charged with the duty of operating and maintaining all the town's public parks.
Greaney said the memorial will honor the 4,100 veterans from Rumford who have served since the Revolutionary War. "This will require hundreds of hours of work...I will not be asking the town for money. I have my own strategy."
Dan Richard, chairman of the Rumford Parks Commission, said Thursday, "I don't see any problems with this. This is more or less a formality, going in front of the board to give everyone a chance to say their piece."
Their board will meet on Tuesday.
"Len does a lot with us (Rumford Parks and Recreation). He provides the flags for the veterans graves for Memorial Day. He's a great advocate for the veterans," noted Richard.
Puiia said selectmen expressed a concern about Greaney's ability to raise the estimated $60,000 to $65,000 for the project.
"My presentation prompted an important question from one of the selectmen, 'Would you begin the process to place a few of the stones in the park...if there are risks that it cannot be funded and completed?' I answered with confidence that I felt there was little or no chance that it would not be completed during the next two years," noted Greaney, who is targeting to get the first stone in place by Veterans' Day on Nov. 11 and finish the project in November 2013.
Greaney said the memorial will honor 4,100-plus vets. It will require approximately 14 granite stones, with named inscribed on both sides. Each stone, mounted on a granite base, will idenify about 300 vets. The in-ground cement bases will be constructed in a gradual semi circle spaced along a 75-foot long layout.
Greaney is a veteran researcher who, during the past eight years, has created a comprehensive veteran database and supported numerous recognition events.
He said the rationale behind this is that a few other Maine towns list all of the vets on war memorials. River Valley towns have listed only their war casulaties. This memorial would join an Oxford County Vietnam War Memorial at Veterans Park, which was commissioned in 2007.
Greaney said his Oxford County veteran database has 15,000 names. Going back in time, Rumford's patriotism has been unparalleled in U.S. towns of its size.
These include 15 during the Revolutionary War; seven during the Spanish American War; four during the War of 1812; 253 during the Civil War; 888 during WWI; 1,678 during WWII; 546 during the Korean War; 620 during the Vietnam War; yet to be determine during Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan.
This year, he said he plans to develop a website to provide access for over 15,000 veterans. When the new Rumford memorial is in place, access to the complete database file will be available directly from Rumford Veterans Park using a smart phone to select the veteran website.
"During March, I will create the design specification and will review it with the VFW and American Legion. I will ask Kirk Thurston of I can give a presentation to the VFW and American Legion members at the American Legion hall. If he approves the event, I will have it videotaped and have it posted to YouTube and shown on Channel 7," said Greaney.
Regarding the funding, Greaney said he won't request funds from the selectmen but will draw up "the Rumford citizen patriotism."
He said he will identify the surnames for veterans who will be listed on each of the 14 stones and contact the known relatives of those surnames and request funding for each respective veteran name.
At a time when enough money has been accumulated to pay for a stone, he will place the order for that one stone. That process will continue to the end of the program.
The estimated cost per veteran name is estimated to be between $15 and $18.
Greaney noted that realistically, there will be vet names that will need funding support because their family cannot be contacted.
Greaney said he will apply for grants as well as accept all other donations.
He indicated that he will periodically report the funding progress to the Board of Selectmen.
Greaney said grant providers closely analyze each grant application to sense local support to choose grant winners. This includes volunteer hours, project applicability to community service, in-kind donations and local cash donations for the cause.
In the event that excess funds are collected, he will allocate those funds to a Mountain Valley High School scholarship in honor of our Rumford veterans.
"The program to create a new, and important patriotic, all war memorial will need to be something for more than one person to complete. Realistically, I will end up doing most of the work, but I will pull together a small group to help me and to give them visibility. I am currently in the process of defining numerous tasks. I'm hopeful that I will find one or two people who will commit to a few tasks," said Greaney.
He said he has opened an account at the Bangor Savings Bank. Checks can be made out to Rumford War Memorial Fund, c/o Len Greaney, 74 Andover Rd., Rumford, ME 04276.
Greaney can be reached at 364-7485 or firstname.lastname@example.org.