Allen Township and a group of residents recently launched a campaign to raise at least $35,000 for a cemetery memorial honoring veterans and firefighters, which they hope to complete in two years.
The planned memorial at Allen Township Williston Cemetery will comprise five granite monuments honoring U.S. military branches - Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, and Navy - and a sixth for firefighters. Brick pavers honoring veterans, firefighters, other residents, organizations, and corporations will form a walkway around the monuments and along a recently built pond behind the existing cemetery.
Donations are being accepted for the memorial pavers and two other items that will accompany the monuments, a 40-foot flagpole and 12 benches. Proceeds will help pay for the memorial's estimated $35,000 to $50,000 cost, which will depend on what type of granite is used, said Dan Helle, president of the cemetery's memorial committee.
Interest in having a military and firefighter memorial grew after the township purchased land a few years ago to expand the cemetery, said Mr. Helle, a member of the Allen-Clay Joint Fire District. A cannon is the cemetery's only official nod to veterans, he said.
"As a member of the fire department, we've been trying to have a memorial for a long time," Mr. Helle said.
The memorial's proposed design, with low-lying monuments, was inspired by Allen Township Trustee Scott Everhardt's visit to President John F. Kennedy's gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery. The planned memorial in the cemetery's latest expansion will be low maintenance and long- lasting, Mr. Everhardt said.
"It's a little different that what you normally see," Mr. Everhardt said. "We didn't want to be exactly just like everyone else."
Memorial pavers, which will be light-colored for veterans and firefighters and darker for everyone else, are expected to be installed next year. Cost is $100 for 4-inch-by-8-inch pavers and $150 for 8-inch-by-8-inch pavers, with an additional $50 for those with military seals.
Since the campaign started Memorial Day weekend, a few of the granite memorial benches have sold for $3,500 each, Mr. Helle said last week. So have some memorial pavers, he said.
Money raised from the sale of benches, pavers, and the 40-foot flag pole with a commemorative plaque for $8,000 will be used to pay for the monuments, Mr. Helle said. Residents also can make monetary donations.
Forms to order pavers are available at http://www.allentownship.us/cemetery.html.
Mr. Helle and other residents started working with township trustees on the memorial project a couple of years ago.
Voters in 2006 approved a five-year, 0.6-mill levy to expand and improve the cemetery. The levy is expected to collect $180,000 to $185,000 during the five-year span, Mr. Everhardt said.
The cemetery was established in the early 1900s by St. John's Lutheran Church, Williston. Then, in 1947, Allen Township took over the cemetery.