Wauzeka comes together for veterans memorial

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Braving the cold and the snow to present the future site of the Wauzeka Area Veterans Memorial are (from left) Lorinda and Roddy Dull, of Eternal Art Monument Company, Boscobel; Mike Bassett, who donated the land for the memorial; Joanne Peloch, veterans memorial committee member; and Suzette Ray, Wauzeka Legion Auxiliary member. Missing are committee members Kathleen Kramer and Deb McCarthy as well as Tina Bassett. (Photo by Correne Martin)

This bronze, fiberglass eagle statue was created by Sculptor David Oswald, of Sparta. It will serve as the centerpiece of the new memorial. It is currently in storage.

Shown is an architectural drawing of what the completed Wauzeka Area Veterans Memorial will look like.

By Correne Martin

To honor the brave in this “Land of the Free,” a Wauzeka committee is in full planning and fundraising mode for a veterans memorial to be erected near the intersection of McCloskey Avenue and Highway 60, across from Bassett Trucking. Plenty of fundraising remains toward the $86,000 goal, but land has been donated, a sign acknowledging the memorial site has been erected and other monetary donations are flowing in.

The veterans memorial project started about two years ago. A number of Legion, Auxiliary and community members felt strongly that Wauzeka needed an updated memorial and site. They wanted it to become a location where hometown citizens and visitors could reflect, appreciate and honor those veterans who have and continue to serve in the United States Armed Forces.

The Wauzeka Area Veterans Memorial Committee of three local women—Joanne Peloch, Kathleen Kramer and Deb McCarthy—formed to lead the committee and the project. Eternal Art Monument Company, of Boscobel, was selected to design and build the veterans memorial. Eternal Art is owned by Roddy and Lorinda Dull, of Woodman.

After considering several locations within the community, the committee decided upon an open site along Highway 60, which is highly accessible and visible to the public. The land, donated by the Mike and Tina Bassett family, of Bassett Trucking, provides the perfect place where a glorious, new veterans memorial can add a touch of beauty to the village.

Mike’s dad was in the Army and his uncle, one-time sheriff William Fillbach, was in the Marines. “[The project] is close to my heart and I felt this was a great spot for the memorial,” Mike Bassett explained. “I guess I’m a proud supporter.”

In addition to the Bassetts’ generous contribution, Travis Kramer has conducted surveying of the site, Donny Atkinson Jr., of D.A. Diggers, tilled the top soil and piled it at the back of the site to be reused, Tom Kozelka and George Brockway have donated dump truck loads of landfill, and Roddy Dull has donated the current sign on the site.

The hope is that the sign will give community members and passers-by an idea that progress on the memorial is continuing, Peloch said.

Also, a portion of the approximate $10,000 that has been raised thus far was used to pay for a bronze, fiberglass eagle statue, which will be the memorial’s centerpiece.

“The eagle will be the sentinel that sits next to the title stone,” Roddy Dull pointed out. “It supports all of the Armed Forces and is sort of a play off of the nature of the area too.”

The reason for having the eagle completed so soon, according to Peloch, is because the chosen sculptor, David Oswald, of Sparta, is retiring from business soon and the committee wanted it completed before then.

Since this past fall, fundraising, name gathering and site readying has consumed much of the committee’s work.

“We take pride in this endeavor because every family has had, knows, or has known someone in the Armed Forces at one time or another,” Peloch said.

The main fundraiser for the veterans memorial project is the annual Sweetheart Steak Supper at Century Hall in Wauzeka on Saturday, Feb. 14, from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m.

The next stage of the project will come in the spring, when landfill is expected to be placed and leveled. More landfill is needed at this time and, in addition to several anticipated loads from Larry and Judy Hurda, donations are currently being sought for that. Once enough money is raised, the committee can purchase flag poles and granite tablets for the memorial, which can be positioned once the site has settled. Landscaping will be another big portion of the project, which the village will take over.

“The village will also take care of the mowing and other maintenance for the site,” Peloch added. “We have started a project to be proud of and will continue on until it is completed. Overall, we have had tremendous support along the way.”

The design of the veterans memorial (see architectural drawing) represents the overall contributions and sacrifices Wauzeka area veterans have made for their country and community. The names etched into the granite tablets will be gleaned from the Wauzeka area and include men and women who served in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard and Merchant Marines, dating back to World War I. With assistance from Wauzeka Legion Post 0458 and Auxiliary members, the committee is meticulously researching and collecting historical records for eligible veterans’ names to be included in this project. Additionally, members of the public who wish to have their loved ones’ names added may do so. There is no charge for names.

Monetary donations may be mailed to the Wauzeka Area Veterans Memorial, c/o Peoples State Bank, 106 S. Business St., P.O. Box 185, Wauzeka, WI 53826.

Also, to provide a veteran’s name to be etched into the granite tablets, or to purchase in-memory brick pavers or three-foot granite benches to be added to the finished memorial, individuals and organizations may contact Joanne Peloch at pjpeloch@gmail.com or (608) 875-6489 or visit the project website: wauzekaveteransmemorial.com.

Editor’s note: Cory Peloch also contributed to this story.

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