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Veterans Pavilion, for those who served

The $975,000 veterans pavilion is nearly completed and is already hosting events. A pavilion was needed for community gatherings, Art Wanner, Veterans Memorial Association vice president, said. (Brandon L. Summers / The Dickinson Press)1 / 2
Adjoining Stark County Veterans Memorial, the new veterans pavilion hosted its first event on March 9. Some work remains to be done on the exterior and grounds. An open house is planned for early summer. (Brandon L. Summers / The Dickinson Press)2 / 2

Stark County Veterans Memorial was missing something.

A facility was needed where the community could gather while appreciating the sacrifices of its veterans.

"We thought it would be a nice location to have a facility that could be in addition to the Veterans Memorial, a place where people could enjoy the memorial as well as the facilities of a pavillion," Art Wanner, Veterans Memorial Association vice president, said.

The memorial was the perfect site for a veterans pavilion, Wanner said.

The association brought the idea to the Dickinson Parks & Rec office.

"We formed that idea based on the fact that there was no place in Dickinson for the veterans to have a meeting place," Wanner said. "We offered to assist with some fundraising along those lines in order to give the veterans a place to have their meetings."

The veterans association gained from the project as well.

"The idea, from the veteran's side, was that in exchange for raising monies to help put this building up, the veterans would be able to utilize that facility free of charge," Wanner said.

Fundraising proved a challenge, especially as the project grew from its original estimated cost of $600,000.

"Parks and Rec only had about a third of that money, and they said if we're going to go with that, it's up to you guys to raise the additional funds," Wanner said. "As we got designs on the buildings and added the things we wanted and so on, that amount grew. It was pretty close to $900,000."

While fundraising, the association was able to better meet community needs by including additional items, such as an outdoor facilities.

"They had bandshell activities there, concerts and so on. During the summer months, there were no bathroom facilities. There were porta-potties, and a lot of people objected to that," Wanner said. "Once that became known, it was one of the things we went to the community with. We would add outdoor bathroom facilities if we could put up the pavilion."

The project had "tremendous" community support, Wanner said.

"That was really appreciated," he said. "We spent a lot of time and we raised a lot of money to get that Veterans Memorial there. If we have a facility, this would add to the memorial itself. That's how that really developed."

He added, "It's gratifying. That's probably the one word. The support the veterans community has received in Dickinson has just been outstanding."

With funds raised, construction began, and new challenges emerged.

"We waited a long time, and there were some snags along the way that were unforeseen and we had to come up with additional money as the ideas and the project developed," Wanner said. "We had some trying moments. There wasn't any question about it."

Among the challenges, while doing soil testing, the association had to deal with the old city pool that had been buried on the site. The pool was dug out and removed and new dirt was added. The site of the former pool did come with cost-saving benefits, however, as water, sewer and electrical lines were already nearby.

Though more work remains to be done, a first event was held at the new pavilion on March 9 and an open house is planned for early summer.

"We don't want to have an open house and have people drag mud into the building because there isn't grass there yet," Wanner said. "A stained glass window will be going in as a tribute to the fallen veterans and there will be landscaping and additional bricks that will be placed there. Outdoor benches will be placed there for people to sit and enjoy the memorial."

Wanner said he was glad to see the project completed.

"It's nice to hear the comments from the people, that it's a nice facility. It looks really good and enhances the entire hillside," he said. "That building is not only for the veterans benefit. It's for the community. We needed a facility like that in the city."

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