05 27 2015

VZC Veterans Memorial Asks For Monthly Bill Help

By Terry Britt
Staff Writer
The Van Zandt County Veterans Memorial is nearing completion, but one of its board members said help is needed with ongoing operating expenses.
On Tuesday, the county commissioners’ court voted to form a committee with representatives from the memorial’s board of directors and the city of Canton to determine possible cost-sharing on utilities for the site.
Precinct 2 Commissioner Virgil Melton Jr. was appointed as the county’s representative. Canton Mayor Cary Hilliard, present at Tuesday’s meeting, offered council member Jerry Yarbrough as its committee member.
Only Van Zandt County Judge Rhita Koches, Precinct 1 Commissioner Bill Rowton and Precinct 4 Commissioner Ron Carroll were present for Tuesday’s meeting.
Director Harry Fontenot told the commissioners’ court the memorial is “85 percent completed.”
“The remaining 15 percent includes the 50 granite blocks we need for memorials to the Van Zandt County veterans who were killed in action,” he said.
Also, a granite archway has been purchased and currently is in storage, Fontenot said, but it will take about $30,000 to raise the arch at the memorial site.
Fontenot said plans for a large bronze statue of a kneeling soldier have been “put on hold indefinitely” because the cost of casting the statue had risen $10,000 from an original quote given seven years ago when the project began.
Besides regular water and electric costs at the site, the memorial foundation has been paying off charges related to water leaks that had occurred at the site.
“What we would like to request is that the county and the city (Canton) develop a cost-sharing plan for the utilities, to allow the foundation the ability to use its funds to finish the memorial to its completion,” Fontenot stated.
When asked by Precinct 4 Commissioner Ron Carroll, Fontenot said the electrical service at the site averaged $170 per month, with water service averaging $270 per month.
He also said the foundation wants to discontinue a $370 per month contract with Turf Pro Landscape Design.
Fontenot later added that the equipment on display at the site would have to be maintained regularly as well.
Hilliard commented, “This a wonderful memorial and an asset to the county as well as the city of Canton, because it is here (in Canton).”
He added the city had already invested $350,000 into the memorial.
“We are prepared to do more, but we can’t do it all,” Hilliard said. “I think a committee to see how we can share the monthly expenses is a good idea.”
In other matters during Tuesday’s meeting, the court took the following action:
-    Approved the annual financial report of the Van Zandt County Child Welfare Board for fiscal year 2012. The court also approved the board’s application for a Walmart Grant for its annual Santa’s Kids program. Co-chairperson Sandy Hilliard presented the report and was joined at the meeting by co-chairperson Mary Peden, treasurer Louise Travis and board member Pat Jordan.
-    Approved a service agreement renewal notice for automated victim notification services through Appriss for the state’s fiscal year 2013.
-    Appointed Jason Hollowell, Nathan Jordan and Larry Hunt as unpaid deputy constables for Precinct 4.

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