SUBA to revamp veterans wall

ROCK CAVE — The Southern Upshur Business Association voted Wednesday to purchase the granite to begin work on a new veterans wall  that will replace the current brick and cement wall with granite monuments.

After several months of fundraising, nearly $17,000 is in hand for the project which is projected to come in under the original goal of $25,000. Reusing the footer that is there will save money, according to SUBA president Glen Hawkins.

The monuments will be made by local businessman Frank White and the goal is to have it in place for Veterans Day 2018.

The plan now calls for two four-feet and two five-feet tall granite monuments – one each for U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force with the names of the veterans under their respective branches.

So far, there are 611 names to be added to the monuments – taken from those who have bricks and some new ones that have been added.

The four monuments together should have room for over 700 names, according to Hawkins.

SUBA began its veteran wall project in the early 2000s at the suggestion of SUBA member Ron Fowler.

Fundraising for that project went well and work proceeded on the brick wall.

“We had a guy from Ohio who gave us the very first $1,000 donation that really got it going,” he said.

But overtime the brick wall developed structural problems.

“The man who built the top didn’t put a cap on it,” Hawkins said. “Water got down in it and froze and that’s when it really started deteriorating. The material in the blocks leaks through to the bricks and that is what is turning the bricks white.”

Something had to be done.

SUBA members began brainstorming how the wall could be saved or replaced and a committee began looking at granite.

“Granite will last a lifetime,” Hawkins said.

Next, came fundraising which has come in the form of bake sales, community donations and raffles.

At Wednesday night’s SUBA meeting, a $4,000 check from a local church, Wilson Chapel, pushed the total raised close to $17,000. A quilt donated by Susie Bender brought a lot of donations with one woman, Francis Chidester, selling nearly $800 in chances for it. The quilt was won by Yvon Suder.

Another raffle is ongoing. Clyde Campbell has donated two turkey calls he carved by hand. Kip Ferocia of Ferocious Calls made the third call and a special box to store them in. The tickets for the raffle are $1 piece or six for $5. Campbell will be selling the chances through the summer.

During Wednesday’s meeting, SUBA members voted to purchase the granite before granite prices increase further.

Hawkins said it is surprising that the group has raised that much money in a short amount of time but also said that any projects supporting veterans seem to take off.

“It seems like when you do something for the veterans like that and start working on it that people just donate,” he said. “It’s something they really look forward to.”

JoAnn Hawkins said locals and visitors can often be seen looking at the wall – some in wheelchairs or using a walker or cane.

West Virginia also has the most veterans per capita than any other state.

To purchase a spot on the new granite markers, the cost is $40. Checks should be earmarked for the veterans wall, made payable to Southern Upshur Business Association and mailed with the veteran’s name and branch of service  to P.O. Box 115, Rock Cave, WV 26234.


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