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Fundraising picks up for veterans' walkway
The Chronicle - 3/1/2017
DARTMOUTH — With spring just around the corner, the Dartmouth Veterans Advisory Board is stepping up its fundraising campaign for another year, seeking to install a new circular walkway and granite benches at the Veterans Memorial Grove near the Council On Aging on Dartmouth Street.
The proposed walkway will circle the existing gazebo at the grove and add a short walkway to the current stone memorial located there. The walkways will likely contain up to 200 inscribed bricks remembering the service of town veterans, purchased by family or friends, said Dartmouth Veterans Service Officer Roy Oliveira.
Beside the new walkways will sit five granite benches, representing the major conflicts in which the U.S. military has been involved. “The benches will be engraved with the names of the Dartmouth veterans lost in each particular conflict,” Oliveira said, looking over the engineered plans for the additions to the grove.
The advisory board is working on an estimated $25,000 budget for the project. “We have to raise up the gazebo. It needs to be raised to meet the required grade for the proper drainage. So we’ll have to do some grading and re-do the landscaping,” he said.
The board, made up of a handful of veterans, is not looking for any financial support from the town, Oliveira said. “It will be all money that we’ve raised ourselves and donations. We’re not asking the town for any money for this,” he said.
The project is being designed in conjunction with the planned widening of the back driveway at the nearby senior center, where a new entryway into the Senior Day Program area at the front of the building will be built by the Friends of the Elderly group. “The two designs will be coordinated” to complement each other, Oliveira said.
The town advisory board started fundraising for the expansion effort last year, with a public appeal, a car show, and the kick-off of the memorial brick campaign. A recent appeal note sent with town excise tax bills netted nearly $2,000 in donations since the start of February, Oliveira said.
“The Veterans Advisory Board and myself are very appreciative of all the donations already made,” Oliveira added. “The community’s been very supportive of this project, and we really appreciate that.”
Donations have also included free services and materials for the planned work. Resident Pedro Castanheira donated the design work and produced an engineered plan, and his employer, Schumacher Companies Inc., contributed three pallets of bricks for the walkway.
The board has sold about 110 inscribed bricks so far, using a link on the town website (in the News & Notices section) and forms available at the Veterans Service Office and Town Clerk’s Office at Town Hall. The bricks are $50 each, offering three lines of text with up to 20 characters per line for the memorial message honoring the local vet.
“We’re looking to sell at least 200 bricks to get started,” Oliveira said. “One hundred percent of the money donated will go specifically toward this project, and to the maintenance of the veteran’s memorials in town.”
The town has 14 memorials to local veterans, maintained and decorated before each Memorial Day by a crew of volunteers from the Dartmouth Knights of Columbus Council, Oliveira said.
The board recently displayed 34 roadside banners, memorializing the 34 Dartmouth veterans killed in action through the centuries, erected a few weeks in advance of the town’s annual Memorial Day parade. Less than half feature photos of the fallen heroes, and the advisory group is still soliciting headshots of loved ones from the families of the oldest veterans.
“We will make a new banner if someone provides us with a photo of that veteran,” Oliveira said. “It’s an ongoing effort.”
Ongoing fundraising efforts include the sale of Dartmouth Challenge Coins ($10 each), “I Support Dartmouth Military” wristbands ($1 each), and an annual membership campaign.
A big fundraising and awareness-raising event is being planned by the advisory board for Saturday, May 13, at the Stop & Shop on Faunce Corner Road. From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., members will give out the colorful rubber wristbands to every donor. “Every dollar helps,” Oliveira said.
Residents who want to support the memorial grove expansion project can mail donation checks payable to the Town of Dartmouth with “DVAB donation” on the memo line, or visit the town website for an inscribed brick application form.