Veterans Commission Meeting Brief and Upbeat

Veterans Commission Meeting Brief and Upbeat

By Michael McAllister

November 2018 calls on Americans to reflect on the 100-year anniversary of the armistice ending World War I.  It also—as Novembers do—prompts Americans to look ahead to the holiday season.

Presently, in Grinnell, holiday decorations seem to eclipse the city’s dormant tribute to veterans, but work to restore the building and to refine its meaning continues.

The Grinnell Veterans Memorial Commission met in regular session at 5:15 p.m. on Monday, November 19. The meeting was delayed one week from its usual designated meeting date, the second Monday of the month, due to conflicts with Veterans Day, which took place on Sunday, November 11, but was also observed in various ways on Monday, November 12.

Four of five commission members were present for the meeting.  Five people made up the audience.

Routine business included fund reports.  Leo Lease stated that the FY 2018-19 budget figure stands at $85,953.  Nicole Behrens, representing the Greater Poweshiek Community Foundation, reported that October’s donations totaled $385, bringing the full donation-to-date figure to $41,542.  Of that amount, $9,248 remains.  Behrens cited a payment to Amperage Marketing & Fundraising as a significant recent expenditure.

One bill appeared on the agenda: $79.04, from Alliant Energy, which was approved for payment.

At the last commission meeting, members approved a motion “to review the proposed Amperage contract with the intention of entering into an agreement at an appropriate time,” official meeting minutes state.  Chair Leo Lease updated this item with discussion.  Tom Lacina added that an approximate six-week window of time is necessary, once the agreement is officially approved, for Amperage to prepare materials.

“It can happen when we need to have it happen,” Lease noted, referring to assumption by Amperage of a full-fledged fundraising campaign.

A specific timeline must coordinate with architectural assessments from RDG Planning and Design, the firm chosen by the Veterans Memorial Commission for building renovation and authorized as such by Resolution 2018-117 from the Grinnell City Council on November 5.

A tentative timeline has been developed, calling for a public meeting early in December, RDG’s full building assessment early in 2019, the finalization of building plans during the first quarter of the new year, and a fundraising campaign beginning with a quiet phase in the second quarter.  All proposed dates are subject to change.

A fundraising steering committee is in development with George Drake as honorary chair and Tom Lacina as one of two co-chairs.  The committee, Lease reported, “has not met yet, but we’re beginning.”

When fully established, committee members will “align … directly with Amperage and the fundraising that they’ve done for all three universities,” Lacina stated.  In addition to Regents’ institutions in Iowa, Amperage Marketing’s website lists 29 post-secondary institutions it has served.

Additional information about the Prairie Star Residency proposal and the steps to that goal will be presented to the public soon.

No progress was reported during the meeting on the topic of expanding Veterans Memorial Commission membership.  At the October meeting, members unanimously approved a motion “to modify current Grinnell Veterans Memorial Commission membership policy to allow for otherwise qualified persons to reside in Poweshiek County and set the maximum member at eleven,” according to official meeting minutes.  Previous restrictions had limited membership to five people residing within the city limits of Grinnell.

When commission member Stringfellow asked if the proposal had gone before the Grinnell City Council, Chair Leo Lease said no.  “We have to focus on our fundraising,” Lease continued, adding, “if we don’t have a building, we don’t have much of anything.”

There were no meeting inquiries.

The last regular 2018 meeting of Grinnell’s Veterans Memorial Commission is slated for Monday, December 10, at 5:15 p.m., in the Community Room of the Drake Community Library.

 Commission members at the November meeting, from left: Gwen Rieck, Randall Hotchkin, Leo Lease, Terry Stringfellow

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