WINNEBAGO - Land, lights and maintenance have all been donated by the city of Winnebago for a veterans memorial, and now the community is being asked to pitch in and dig in at a Veterans Memorial Breakfast Fundraiser on Sunday.
So far, $22,000 has been raised for the effort, thanks to support from the Lions Club and local firefighters. Jerry Johannsen, with the Winnebago Memorial Committee, estimates between $50,000 to $60,000 is needed to construct the site in Whiting Park, along Highway 169.
"Casey's is committed, but they want us to get 60 percent funded," Johannsen said. "There are other entities in town that have committed."
A sign in Whiting Park marks the spot where the Winnebago Veterans Memorial will stand.
Free-will donations will be accepted at the breakfast fundraiser, which is set for 8 a.m. to noon Sunday at Winnebago City Hall. It is timed to coincide with Veteran's Day on Nov. 12.
On the menu are scrambled eggs, pancakes, French toast, sausage and beverages. The memorial committee is co-sponsor of the breakfast with the Winnebago American Legion.
To raise more money, Johannsen and his wife, Denice, also are collecting items for a raffle, which is tentatively set for next year.
"We already have an electric kids Gator donated by John Deere," he said.
"We're looking for more large items like a grill, TV, sports tickets, any large items that can go on a raffle," Denice said.
The couple have visited other memorials, and want to pattern the local one after a monument in Prinsburg, which include large stones standing upright.
Johannsen envisions one stone marking the entrance, engraved with the emblems of the branches of the military; another stone would feature the Gold Star veterans; and a third stone would be engraved with the names of veterans who have served in war- and in peace-time. He also wants stone benches, so visitors would have a place to sit while they contemplate the memorial, with flags from the United States and Minnesota, prisoners of war, and possibly the American Legion.
"We've got about 60 names right now," he said, and he knows of another 40 more. "Any other veterans, please contact us."
To make contacting the group easier, Denice wants to put the memorial information on the city's website and is looking for someone with "computer savvy" to help with the outreach and grant writing.
It costs $200 to add a name and if anyone needs help with the fee, Johannsen said the Winnebago American Legion would try to help. It costs more to add names after the stones are set, he added.
"If I could build it without one veteran's dollar, I would," Johannsen said. "We need people to come forward and help out."
He noted that Wells will dedicate a memorial on Veterans Day, and they paid $175 for names.
Denice said all the other places the couple visited charged for their memorial names, except one, and that was done with community donations.
With the holidays coming up, she suggested people think about making donations as a gift.
"You get a certain age, and you have everything you need," she said.
Anyone wishing to donate can send a donation to Winnebago City Hall, making the checks out to the Winnebago Veterans Memorial, or contact any board members: Johannsen, Jerome Behnke, Karen Hernandez, Ed Kellen, LeAnn Eastman, and Joyce Eastvold.