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Vets memorial project gets $46,000 grant

Henry Chipp Cobb holds an artist's rendition by Aaron Fitzherbert of Tribute Artistry on Route 5 in Ascutney of the proposed Veterans Memorial for Weathersfield The lastest design will change slightly with four columns supporting the flame instead of the one central post. Julia Lloyd Wright photo. (click for larger version)
September 17, 2009
WEATHERSFIELD — Fundraising for the Weathersfield Veterans Memorial Committee got a boost recently when U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., secured a federal grant for $45,900 to help complete the construction of a new memorial.

The grant is being administered through the state of Vermont but it is important to note, retired U.S. Army Colonel and Committee Chair Henry (Chip) Cobb said, that there will be no administrative fees payable to the state.

Federal money will be paid directly to the town and all bills and accounting handled in the town office and not directly by the committee.

The application for the grant was written by Cobb, who has spearheaded the drive, and the money was expected to complete the cost of replacing a former wooden plaque recording the names of those from town who served their town and country. The old plaque once stood in Ascutney and is believed to have been lost during the 1950s.

When the project began, Cobb emphasized that funding for the memorial should not come from the taxpayers, but from donations and fundraising sources. More than $10,000 has been raised so far from donations, walkathons, chicken barbecues, ice cream sales, raffles and other activities.

The new grant will help the committee move ahead with the preparation and construction of a more permanent stone memorial. An educational component is planned for a later date to be located at the Weathersfield school and used as a teaching tool for students and the community.

Finding appropriate local stones has been a lengthy process. A year has elapsed since a group, led by Aaron Fitzherbert, owner of Tribute Artistry on Route 5 in Ascutney, hiked to a former granite quarry on

the side of Ascutney Mountain. Fitzherbert had marked several pink granite stones and property owner Herman McDerment, who accompanied the group, has offered to donate stone for the memorial.

Cobb said that some pink stone will come from McDerment's land but member Bob Dickinson has since found a new source of black and white stones and combining all colors could result in a more striking monument.

The original concept for the monument was designed by Fitzherbert and depicted a large stone base, one central column topped by a flame.

Cobb said the design has changed slightly and the central pillar will now include four individual upright pieces. The base and the terminal flame will remain as originally shown.

It's been a long haul — four years — Cobb said, but the committee is hopeful that the stones can be pulled out this fall with locally-donated help and sent to Barre, Vt., to begin the first cutting process.

A former cutting facility in Barre has been sold, Cobb said, but they are looking for an alternative. We are still looking for the cheapest way to cut the stone, Cobb said.

The green in Perkinsville will be the final resting place for the memorial. No one stepped forward with other alternatives. It was Perkinsville's turn to make it part of Weathersfield which better ties it together.

"We have an easement agreement with Trustees of the Perkinsville Community Church," Cobb said.

The former country store was unable to reopen, the post office moved to Downers and the elementary school closed to merge with the middle school in Ascutney.

"We're developing a theme a year for an educational kiosk and are looking for a group of people willing to sit together to support troops," Cobb said.

The committee plans to house the exhibit at the school but be able to move it to set it up in another location during a volunteer or town event. Possible themes could cover WWI and WWII and more recent conflicts as well as events leading up to war and their consequences.

Fundraising will not cease, Cobb said, and another chicken barbecue is planned for this fall.

Cobb particularly praised Ascutney resident Lisa Sargent for her work not only in fundraising for the memorial project but organizing a drive to collect supplies for troops in Afghanistan and round up school materials and warm clothing which were sent via the military last winter for Afghan children.

Martin Lord & Osman
Varney Smith
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