Taking a big step in the right direction
Published 4:01 pm Sunday, August 28, 2016
BLOOMING PRAIRIE — With the help of a local business, a Blooming Prairie group took one giant step toward paving the way for a new veterans memorial.
Farmers & Merchants Bank of Blooming Prairie donated $25,000 to the Blooming Prairie Veterans Memorial in front of the bank Friday. It signified not only a big financial step forward for the project, but a strong community commitment as well.
“The veterans committee really hasn’t gone out to solicit from businesses,” said Tom Peterson, chairman of the Blooming Prairie Veterans Memorial Committee. “They’re committed to this community.”
Email newsletter signup
About nine months ago, Jim Fiebiger, president of the bank, heard about the project and immediately knew the business had to be a part of what was happening.
“I knew this is what the bank ownership and bank would want to do,” Fieberger said.
Fiebiger said that the $25,000 donation was the least the bank could do for those who are and have served in the military. It’s especially meaningful in that the bank was once owned by Col. Edward C. Habberstad, who flew several missions on a B-17 bomber in World War II.
Prior to the check-passing outside the bank, Fiebiger alluded to how much Habberstad would have liked the idea of a veterans memorial in Blooming Prairie.
“I wish Ed was here,” he said. “He would really have enjoyed this.”
A need to honor
The drive to get the memorial began two years ago when Sons of the American Legion came up with the idea. In short order, a committee and corporation were formed.
With the formation of the Blooming Prairie Veteran’s Memorial Corp. came the land, just off from the Servicemen’s Club on the north end of Blooming Prairie, next to Highway 218.
Peterson estimated the memorial will need $250,000 to get the project’s initial construction completed. Currently, with Friday’s donation, the corporation has $61,000 in the bank. While an official amount hasn’t been decided on yet, Peterson said they hope to begin looking at contractors soon.
“We hope when we get to an amount that we haven’t yet determined, then we might start talking to contractors,” Peterson said. “If we have $100,000 then maybe late winter, early spring we can start doing a little work.
But Peterson said even though the group doesn’t want to wait a real long time to complete it, there isn’t a rush either.
“We’re pretty careful that we’re not going to fast,” Peterson said. “We’re not in a rush, but at the same time we don’t want to sit on these people’s money.”
The layout of the memorial will be a simple design, but not at all lacking, Peterson said.
“It’s simple, but it’s majestic on the simplicity,” Peterson said.
As people walk onto the memorial, a pedestal with a bald eagle will honor prisoners of war. At the center will be five slabs representing each of the five branches of the military with a flag pole at its center.
The pavers will be mounted in a semicircle around the slabs with room for 120 pavers per side, per slab equaling 720 pavers.
“It’s a beautiful layout and a wonderful way to honor those that have served,” Fiebiger said.
Anybody wanting to reserve a paver for a veteran can contact Tom Peterson at 507-456-2017 or send a letter to the Blooming Prairie Veterans Memorial, PO Box 432, Blooming Prairie, MN 55917. Each paver costs $350. There is room for three lines with a maximum of 20 characters per line.
There are four levels of donations for the memorial.
Platinum Level: $25,000 and up
Gold Level: $10,000 to $24,999
Silver Level: $5,000 to $9,999
Bronze Level: $1,000 to $4,999
A completed form with cash or check payment
can be sent to Blooming Prairie Veterans Memorial, PO Box 432, Blooming Prairie, MN 55917.
The names of donators giving $1,000 or more will be recognized in a book, grouped by donation level, located inside the main entrance of the Servicemen’s Club, along with the directory of the location of each service member being honored.
Veterans Memorial board members
Tom Peterson, Sandy Jones, Ken Verily, Fred Vokoun, Marilyn Meshke, Tom Walters and Douglas Miner.
Douglas Miner, Keith Holman, Kurt Blome and Jaclyn Schlicter