“I think practically every town around here has a memorial, and I thought Fountain should have one too,” Fountain resident and military veteran Larry Hunt remarked.
When Hunt first came up with the idea of constructing a veterans memorial in Fountain, he approached the city council about it. They agreed that the city should have one to recognize and honor military veterans.
Once the council had approved the veterans memorial concept in October 2016, the next step was to get the location okayed by the Minnesota Department of Transportation as the land was owned by the state.
City Clerk Ronda Flattum and general contractor Phil Eickhoff began the paperwork necessary for the conveyance approval from the DOT, but hit a roadblock when they were informed that a design needed to be submitted first. Eickhoff drafted a design for the memorial, and they were on their way.
Flattum exchanged countless emails with the DOT, and Eickhoff met with representatives several times to iron out all the details. Finally, they were given permission to build a veterans memorial on the state’s land.
Hunt pointed out that the approval itself only used one piece of paper, but the guidelines and specifications that needed to be followed filled 28 pages. Eickhoff and Flattum worked hard to ensure that everything was done the way it was required to be.
Flattum sent out letters to Fountain area residents asking for donations to build the veterans memorial and was met with an amazing response.
Many local businesses, organizations, and individuals from Fountain and the surrounding areas donated money for the project. The Fountain Legion Post #492 donated $1,500. Building materials and labor were also donated.
As Eickhoff began construction on the memorial, Hunt followed the progress closely, often showing up at the site to take pictures of each stage of the project. “He stayed involved through the whole project,” Eickhoff noted.
Hunt had asked that the memorial itself be built using dark stone with a white plaque affixed to the front. He had noticed that many veterans memorials he’d seen were white with darker colored plaques, and he wanted Fountain’s to be unique. Brian Ostby from Torgerson Ostby Floor Coverings and Stone, Inc. selected and installed a black stone design for the memorial wall.
As the construction progressed, several changes were made to the design.
One of the most notable ones was the seamless addition of a metal cutout of a soldier kneeling in front of a cross with his helmet and an empty pair of combat boots beside him. “It looks like the memorial was designed around the kneeling soldier,” Eickhoff pointed out, a statement with which Flattum agreed.
Eickhoff also worked with the Fillmore County Engineer Ron Gregg to add a parking area in front of the memorial. The county provided gravel for the area and plans to blacktop it later.
Eickhoff completed construction on the veterans memorial in late October.
A stone walkway leads to a round concrete slab which has a bench sitting on either side where visitors can sit and reflect. The memorial wall turned out just as Hunt had envisioned, with black stone and a white plaque dedicating the memorial to everyone who has served in the United States Armed Forces. Five medallions, one for each branch of the military, are embedded on the plaque. The kneeling soldier has been placed on the top of the wall with an American flag rising up from one end of the wall and a black POW/MIA flag on the other end.
Landscaping around the veterans memorial will be completed in the spring.
“There’ve been a lot of hands in this project to make it a reality,” Flattum said. “It’s a beautiful addition to the town.” She also pointed out that the memorial’s location, on County Road 8 right off of Highway 52, is the perfect location as it can be seen both when entering and leaving the town of Fountain.
“I think we’re one of the smallest cities in Minnesota to have a veterans memorial,” Hunt remarked. “It’s fairly impressive for a town this size.”
Hunt is very grateful for everyone who helped his vision become a reality, but especially to Flattum and Eickhoff for the many hours they put into the project.
The Fountain Veterans Memorial will be dedicated in the spring of 2017 with a dedication service.
Donations are still being accepted to help cover ongoing maintenance costs for the memorial. Anyone who wishes to donate can do so at the Fountain City Offices or by calling (507) 268-4923.