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Veterans seek funds to finish memorial

February 17, 1999

Veterans MemorialBy BRENDAN KIRBY / Staff Writer

photo courtesy of Washington County Joint Veterans Council




Local veterans are searching for funds to complete a memorial wall now that the Washington County Gaming Commission has rejected their funding request.

The Gaming Commission had tentatively decided to give the Washington County Joint Veterans Council $3,000 of its $35,000 request to finish building the Washington County Memorial Wall at Martin L. "Marty" Snook Park in Halfway.

But on the advice of its attorney, Gaming Commission members determined last week that veterans organizations do not qualify for grants available as a result of the county's tip jar gambling law.

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The decision leaves the veterans council with no money and an unfinished wall.

"We are not here to bash the Gaming Commission," said Jim Sprecher, veterans council president. "We have no qualms with the Gaming Commission because they have rules and regulations, too But we have a veterans wall to complete."

Sprecher said the organization has spent the $1,700 it received in donations. The project is $10,000 in debt and, he said, the group needs another $24,700 on top of that.

Total cost of the project, including donated labor and materials, is $122,347.

Ray Linebaugh, secretary of the Joint Veterans Council, said group members were seeking help.

Workers have completed two of five stone arches on the 140-foot-long wall, which is about a quarter-mile from the park's entrance.

The arches represent the county's five-arch bridges, and each will contain a plaque of one of the U.S. military's five branches.

Sprecher and Linebaugh said the memorial will stand as a reminder of county residents who gave their lives for their country.

"It will be, as far as we're concerned, a landmark for Washington County," Linebaugh said.

Initially, the wall was designed as a retaining wall to level the ground at one place in the park. But after consulting with the County Commissioners, the project grew in scope.

The project has received support from county residents and businesses. Students from the International Masonry Institute at Fort Ritchie have donated the brick and stone work. Hagerstown Block Co. dug the trench and St. Lawrence Cement Corp. has donated 250 bags of mortar, Linebaugh said. Steffey & Findlay Inc. has donated about 20 tons of sand.

"This thing will be really, really nice if we ever get it fin-ished," Linebaugh said.

People who want to donate to the veterans wall project can make out a check to Joint Veterans Council - Memorial Wall.

Donations are tax deductible.

Checks can be sent to: P.O. Box 3664, Northern Avenue, Hagerstown, MD 21742

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