City Council gets closer look at proposed Veterans Memorial renovation

Published 8:05 pm Monday, April 15, 2024

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During its work session Monday night, the Austin City Council heard more on the plans to renovate the Veterans Memorial in downtown Austin, hopefully this year.

In speaking to the council, Mike Ruzek described the work to the memorial, which will revamp the lay-out to make the memorial easier to walk through and easier to view the 319 names of Mower County residents who passed already enshrined on the memorial’s wall and 1,200 pavers at the site.

The estimated cost is between $170,000 to $200,000 with $80,000 from a variety of organizations already committed. Ruzek said after the meeting that he hopes a more solid plan as well as a more precise dollar amount will be known sometime next week.

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Ruzek told council members that the Mower County Veterans Memorial has committed $20,000 out of its operating fund with another 50,000 committed by Mower County. Another $10,000 has been committed through The Hormel Foundation.

“We’re just getting going,” Ruzek told the council, adding that he hoped the city would find some funds to donate as well. “We still have quite a ways to go yet.”

As it stands now, plans call for the pavers to be raised out of the ground they currently rest in and will be mounted on steel structures with granite trim that will provide angles for people to better view the pavers and the names etched on their surface.

“The benefits of this is that maintenance is going to be eliminated,” Ruzek said. “The pavers aren’t going to be subject to frost or weeds.”

He also said that it will be easier to hold ceremonies at the site.

The Mower County Veterans Memorial was established in 1990 and then renovated for the first time in 2008 when the Walk of Remembrance was established and the pavers were first displayed. At the same time, the bronze sculpture of a soldier holding a fallen comrade was added along with flags representing the various military branches, a special MIA site, better signage, landscape improvements and an eagle sculpture.

This most current proposed renovation will allow for an additional 700 pavers, something the space is currently limiting.

Mower County has also opened up the possibility of extending the memorial to land adjacent to the site to the south.

Ruzek said they hope to begin work on the project this year with the project also eyed to be finished in 2024, but that will all depend on whether or not they can raise the appropriate funds.

“When we get the money, things will fall into place really well,” he said. 

No decision was made by the council Monday night, with talks expected to continue at a later date.

In the meantime, those wishing to donate to the renovation fund or to learn more can call Ruzek at 1-507-460-8965 or email him at People can also call Veterans Services at 1-507-434-2712. Donations are tax deductible.