Veterans Commission Continues Quiet Campaign
By Michael McAllister
Sixty-seven days before a levy vote that could determine the fate of Grinnell’s Veterans Memorial Building, the Veterans Memorial Commission presided over a low-key monthly meeting on the evening of September 11, 2017.
In addition to the four members of the commission pictured above (Left to right: Marie Andrews, Gwen Rieck, Leo Lease, George Fowler), eight members of the community attended.
Business was routine throughout the twenty-five-minute session. Nicole Behrens of the Greater Poweshiek Community Foundation was not present to present a fund balance, but Commission Chair Leo Lease cited the sum of $26,673. The only expenditure since the last meeting was that of $500, Lease reported, which was a contract payment to the professional fundraising organization that is marshaling efforts to be set in motion if the November vote approves the levy proposal.
Lease also referred to the sum of $19,226, which he stated is the amount remaining out of an original budget for this year of $20,000.
There were no bills needing approval for payment.
On the topic of the levy, Lease called the November vote “the deciding thing.”
He said, “My feeling is that if there is a positive outcome for…the levy…then that’s also a vote to keep the building. I think it works the other way, too.”
Lease then commented on the commission’s role relative to the November vote and the eventual outcome of the building.
The board’s obligation, he said, is “to keep track of the best interests of veterans,” which is why the commission has endorsed the concept of an artists-in-residence program. Lease stressed the benefits to the community that could result from such a program and mentioned to the audience that a list of talking points can be provided to anyone who would find such a list valuable when talking to members of the community.
The endorsement that Lease referred to is worded as follows on the Prairie Star Residency website:
“It is the vision of the Grinnell Veterans Memorial Building Commission that the building be renovated to honor veterans as a memorial, to serve the community and to house a national artist residency, called the Prairie Star Residency, with a special focus on veterans.”
The residency program, Lease continued, is a way that “we can draw the community together and do good things for veterans.”
He encouraged audience members to share opinions with and request support from people throughout the community.
During the inquiry section of the meeting, one question arose as to the Veterans Commission’s role in managing the building should the residency proposal come to pass. For example, will the commission have a say in displays that are intended to honor veterans?
Lease explained that, yes, the commission will retain the obligation of managing the building, but in doing so the commission will have to work closely with the city since the city maintains authority over spending.
In other business, the monthly Pizza Ranch fundraiser will occur the third Thursday of this month.
The next meeting of the Veterans Memorial Building Commission is scheduled for 5:15 p.m. on Monday, October 9, in the Community Room at the Drake Library.