BELDING — Last Veterans Day, Belding celebrated the opening of its new Veterans Park with the unveiling of the Freedom Wall, a monument honoring all Belding area veterans of World War II.
Now, one year later, Belding will be welcoming another monument to the park.
At 5 p.m. on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, a ceremony will be held at the park on Depot Street to unveil the new Korean War monument.
Belding resident Denny Craycraft has been working on the Veterans Park project for nearly three years and won’t rest until he has a monument in place honoring veterans from every U.S. war.
“It’s been a great adventure, and (the park) is still the talk of the town,” Craycraft said.
Craycraft updated the Belding City Council during Tuesday evening’s meeting on the status of the new monument. He said that the monument is on schedule to be shown to the public on Veterans Day.
“I’m very pleased and tickled about where we are at with the Korean monument,” Craycraft said. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think that we were going to have that monument up by Veterans Day.”
Patton Monuments of Comstock Park, which engraved and installed a monument honoring veterans in May, has again agreed to engrave and install another monument for Craycraft before receiving any funds.
“They have been working with me hand and foot with that,” Craycraft said. “The Korean monument, it is also coming from India … and it is here, it’s in Grand Rapids. It’s been lasered out of the granite already and another company is currently lasering the soldier into the Korean monument.
According to Craycraft, the monument will feature the image of a United States soldier, as well as include the timeframe of the war and a message that reads “Freedom is not free.”
Craycraft, expecting a large turnout for the dedication on Nov. 11, asked council members to approve the use of mobile bleachers provided by the city, as they have done in the past.
Mayor Ron Gunderson said no motion was needed to approve the request, adding that it would not be a problem for the Department of Public Works to make the bleachers available.
Craycraft said he has raised about half of the $7,600 needed to pay for the monument through many donations and several grants, including a recent $1,000 donation from Meijer Inc.
Craycraft said he will continue to seek more donations, but is not looking to approach anyone who has donated in the past.
“I try not to go to the well twice, because I’m already thankful for where we are at,” he said. “We should be very proud of this community.”
Though the Korean monument has yet to be placed on site, Craycraft said he is already beginning to prepare for a World War I monument.
Craycraft recently visited five area cemeteries to gather the names of World War I veterans, which Craycraft will embark after the Korean monument is paid for.
“Through our efforts, we’ve collected 133 WWI veteran names from this community,” he said. “I hope I got all of them, which I probably didn’t, but I hit every (headstone).”
Craycraft can be reached at (616) 550-6990 for more information or to donate.
In other matters …
• Council members unanimously approved to bid a project on berm maintenance at the city’s wastewater treatment facility lagoon No. 2 to Dean’s Excavating and Dirt Connection of Sand Lake not to exceed $113,750.
City Manager Meg Mullendore was absent from Tuesday’s meeting due to illness. In her stead, Belding Finance Director Sam Andres gave the report on the bids. Two bids were received — Dean’s Excavating and Dirt Connection was the lower of the two bids at $113,750 while Blue Star Inc. submitted a bit of $191,850, the difference being $78,100.
Councilman Mike Scheid said he was comfortable with choosing the lower bid from Dean’s Excavating and Dirt Connection.
“Dean’s is a good company, they’ve done work here in town before,” he said. “They are very conscientious about stuff so I don’t see a problem with them doing it.”
• A closed session meeting about Mullendore’s performance evaluation after her first six months of work was postponed until the Nov. 5 meeting due to her absence.