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Memorial organizers seek help

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By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

HILLSVILLE — The monument being built at the Galax Public Library honors all Twin County veterans, including those from Hillsville and Carroll County, project organizers say.
Gary Lowe and Frank Plichta of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 245 brought that message to Hillsville Town Council’s Feb. 25 meeting.
“We are from Galax — that’s where our monument is — but it is for Carroll County,” Lowe began the discussion. “A lot of people, I understand, don’t know that it’s for Hillsville and Carroll County, Grayson and Galax.
“We just want to let you guys be aware that it is your monument, as well as ours,” he said.
Plichta showed a model of the monument that’s already been partially constructed and dedicated.
The project began about four years ago, and it’s been a labor of love, he said. The goal is to recognize all veterans from the Twin County area, whether they hail from here, moved away or moved in after their military service.
“We’ve come to you to ask for your support in the project,” Plichta explained. “Up until now, we’ve primarily been depending on trying to raise funds at local festivals and community events.”
Organizers have set up displays at community events like the gun show in Hillsville or Leaf & String in Galax, and community members have been very generous, donating around $127,000 for the project.
People want to see the project move forward, so organizers have built and dedicated the honor circle portion of the monument, with its seven black monoliths that are eight feet tall and weigh two to three tons each.
That was dedicated on Veterans’ Day, and organizers have turned their focus to the prisoners of war and missing in action memorial. Plichta said it will cost $32,000 and they lack $4,100.
They remain optimistic in raising those funds in order to install the new POW/MIA piece and have a dedication ceremony by Memorial Day, May 27.
“We’re going to try to find all the POWs that are still living and have them be our special guests,” he said.
After that, organizers will work on raising money for the most expensive piece of the monument, in memory of those deceased, Plichta said. That part will include a fountain that’s a 12-by-16-foot piece of black granite. It might take two years to get those funds together.
He expressed appreciation for the work done by the City of Galax, which handled all the infrastructure and saved a tremendous amount of money.
The monument will recognize Twin County veterans from all periods, from the Revolutionary War until now, he said. Estimates from Census Bureau documents puts that figure at 11,000 people in this area.
Vice Mayor Ed Terry, presiding in Mayor Greg Crowder’s absence, told the veterans that they will consider the request.
In other business, the town council:
• heard Town Manager Travis Jackson report on continuing efforts to clean up Hillsville.
“I would like to say that our staff’s going to be putting a major emphasis on looking around town, trying to get things cleaned up,” he said during the town manager’s report. “Particularly, we still have some storm damage remaining on some of the outlying streets.”
Staff will encourage property owners to put their brush and debris near the street so that it can be picked up and hauled off.
• heard from Police Chief Greg Bolen that reports of street lights that have gone out can be shared with the police department and they will pass on those to Appalachian Power.
Bolen also recommended that the town make the intersection of Main and Jett streets less of a hazard by eliminating a parking space.