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Vietnam Veterans Memorial traveling wall coming to Solon?

Council approves $3,000 of $7,000 tab

SOLON– A traveling version of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial may be coming to Solon in August.
Scott Rozinek, a member of the Solon American Legion, approached the Solon City Council for partial funding of the proposal at a Jan. 22 meeting.
Council members agreed to fund a $3,000 down-payment.
The total cost, Rozinek said, would be $6,000, plus lodging for a driver and any other associated local expenses.
Rozinek told city representatives he had previously assisted in the displaying of a Vietnam traveling memorial wall in West Branch.
He said he hadn’t seen it in a long time and had discussed scheduling a visit with other local Legion members.
“I’m here to propose that we bring it to town,” Rozinek said. “It’s a heck of a draw. There’s a lot of people that come and visit it. I think it would be a really good thing for the town.”
Mayor Steve Stange asked Rozinek to elaborate on the details.
Rozinek said he had discussed a tentative date of Thursday through Tuesday, Aug. 13-18, with representatives of the traveling monument. Display organizers would come into town and set up the wall for display over the weekend, with disassembly on Tuesday.
The traveling wall being brought to Solon would be 256 feet long and about 6 feet tall, he said, and could be erected on Legion property near the Solon Veterans Memorial and the Johnson County Freedom Rock.
The Solon American Legion would accept responsibility for security, Rozinek said. The replica needs to be manned 24 hours a day, with two people recommended for overnight shifts, he added. During display, Legion members would be on hand to assist visitors.
Rozinek indicated the proposal was still preliminary, with many details to hash out.
The traveling wall would be open to the public rain or shine, he said, with the possibility of a tent for inclement weather or bleachers for visitors to sit and contemplate.
Council member Dan O’Neil said he remembered the wall coming to West Branch.
“Is it something that we would want potentially in the downtown area where we would have restrooms available, things like that?” he asked.
Rozinek said portable bathrooms would probably be brought in.
“Definitely, it needs to be at the memorial,” Stange said. “That’s the showcase. That’s what that was all created for. I think it would totally take away from it if it wasn’t at the memorial.”
“Plus there’s parking, it’s quiet,” Rozinek noted.
“And the setting is beautiful,” Stange added. “It’s very complementary to each other.”
Rozinek has received a contract for the traveling wall which requires a down-payment of $3,000 and a total cost of $6,000. In addition, local organizers must provide six nights in a king suite for the driver, and other associated costs like port-o-potties.
The Legion would like to establish a committee to work on details and fundraising, he said.
Stange asked council members if they were interested in making a financial commitment.
“I would say there’s definitely interest,” O’Neil said. “I think it’s a really neat thing to bring to town.”
Rozinek said support would also be sought from local businesses.
“Would the council support $3,000 toward it?” Stange asked.
Council members informally agreed.
The funds will come from the 2020 budget, Stange noted, meaning the money won’t be available until July.
Rozinek noted the Legion would likely need the initial outlay in a month.
City Administrator Cami Rasmussen indicated she would arrange the city’s financing.
Council members unanimously passed a motion to fund the down-payment.
O’Neil suggested someone from the city could sit on the committee, and Stange recommended Rozinek work also with Public Works Director Scott Kleppe.
“Thank you all, very much,” Rozinek said.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is located near the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and is maintained by the National Park Service. The memorial includes the names of over 58,000 servicemen and women who gave their lives in service in the Vietnam Conflict. The names are inscribed on black granite panels which span about 500 feet and are 11 feet tall.
There are several replica walls touring the country. Most are three-fifths scale.