Archive for Thursday, October 20, 2005

Fundraising obstacles put brakes on monument

Organizer confident memorial still will be built

October 20, 2005

The planned Lansing Memorial to Veterans won't be ready this year, but the organizer behind the effort is confident of a successful drive to build the monument.

Mike Howell, senior vice president of the Lansing Veterans of Foreign Wars chapter, said his original idea of having the memorial completed for its dedication on Veterans Day - Nov. 11 - won't happen.

"It's obvious we're not going to make it by November," Howell said this week.

Howell conceived the idea on July 4, 2004, and began quietly promoting it toward the end of last year. By March 2005, he had taken his idea public. Within a month, he had received the backing of the Lansing City Council for the memorial. By May, the city had ponied up $1,000 to erect a sign west of City Hall, the site of the memorial, to help in fund-raising efforts.

The tiered, tapered memorial will be in the shape of the Pentagon, topped by flags of the United States, state of Kansas and city of Lansing. On its five corners will be flags from the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.

Walkways with bricks will lead to the monument.

Howell is trying to sell 2,600 bricks for the walkways, which would raise $104,000. Bricks, which can be inscribed with the name of a veteran or the contributor, cost $40 each or $100 for three.

Howell said Fund-raising had gone well, just not as quickly as he had hoped. He said the effort had about $11,000 in the bank, largely from sales of bricks to individuals.

"The biggest thing we need now is to get some corporate sponsors," he said.

Though he didn't want to name potential sponsors, Howell said preliminary talks had gone well.

He said he had run into some timing obstacles that were preventing corporate sponsors from donating now, but he remains confident the memorial will be able to attract larger contributors.

"Everybody's been very supportive of it; everybody thinks it's a great idea," Howell said.

Though he said he's disappointed the monument won't be ready by Veterans Day, Howell said he'd like to see it be ready perhaps by Memorial Day 2006.

"I guess I was just overly optimistic with the timetable the first time around," he said.

Howell said he was certain the monument would be built.

"No doubt about it," he said. "Let's put it this way, I'm not ready to mail anybody's check back to them. It will be built.

Buy a brick

To purchase a brick or to donate to the Lansing Memorial for Veterans, contact Mike Howell at 727-1668 or 680-4195.

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