Residents at odds over memorialPublished 10:58am Friday, June 1, 2012 Updated 1:35pm Friday, June 1, 2012
While nobody opposes the construction of a veterans memorial on the courthouse grounds in Elbow Lake, the location of the proposed memorial has become a controversy that has upset many in Grant County.
The original plan for the memorial was to build it directly in front of the courthouse. The sidewalks leading up to the courthouse create a horseshoe shape, and many want to see the memorial built within the horseshoe.
There are others in Grant County who feel the memorial should be moved just west of the sidewalk. This idea was proposed by a designer who assessed the site and memorial design. The purpose for the proposal was to move the memorial west to avoid stacking two focal points on top of each other.
“The courthouse wouldn’t even be there without the veterans who fought and died to preserve our freedom,” said Clint Grove, President of Grant County Veterans Memorial Support organization. “A military veteran should never have to take second place. They should be able to have the first spot.”
Grove would like for the Memorial to be visible from the stretch of Highway 59 coming into the city from Barrett.
According to Grant County commissioner Tom Amundson, there are several advantages to moving the memorial west of the sidewalk.
“The courthouse is very majestic,” Amundson said. “It is the main focal point. If the memorial is built right out front, many people will drive into the city and never notice the memorial. If the memorial is built just off to the side, it will be more likely to be noticed.”
Many Grant County residents have spoken out on the issue, and dozens of letters to the editor have been written to the Grant County Herald. Most of these letters have been in favor of placing the memorial directly in front of the courthouse, said treasurer of the Grant County Veterans Memorial Support organization Stuart Anderson.
Amundson said there is also a lot of community support from the other side as well.
“Anytime I’m with someone in the county I bring up the issue,” he said. “I explain the situation and ask for opinions. I get opinions on both sides, but it seems like when people understand the reasons for moving the memorial to the west, most people think it’s a good idea.”
According to Grove, the location of the memorial shouldn’t even be an issue.
“We have around 600 veterans from Grant County and more than 60 who were killed in action,” he said. “The guys who were on the front lines deserve everything we can pay them. These are the people we want to pay tribute to.”
Aside from aesthetics, there are several other reasons to place the memorial west of the sidewalk, Amundson said. There would be more privacy for reflection, more room for expansion and it would not have to be built over a water line.
The Grant County Board will discuss this issue at 1 p.m. on Tuesday in the courthouse. Although it is not likely a final decision will be made, many are expected to show up to show support for both sides of the issue.
“We have some veterans who went through Hell, and they’re going to be there,” Grove said. “We’re trying to be diplomatic right now, but if we get refused again, there will be people who will be less diplomatic about things.”
No matter what, this memorial is going to be a great addition to the courthouse, said Amundson.
“Nobody is against building this memorial,” he said. “It’s just a matter of ironing out this issue.”