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World War II veteran pushes for military memorial in Altoona

By: Aaron Dimick Email
By: Aaron Dimick Email

ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) -- It’s a project years in the making. And now a local community is one step closer to figuring out where to put its tribute to military veterans.

WEAU 13 News heard from a local vet on Sunday who’s spearheading a veterans memorial in Altoona.

Ralph Ely said he spent 1940 to 1945 in the U.S. Army.

He said he fought in the Pacific against Japanese forces in World War II.

“I was in the invasion of Okinawa,” Ely said.

The 90-year-old said the push to get a veterans memorial in Altoona started six years ago.

“But the DNR came in and said it will take a couple million dollars for what you want to do here. So I abandoned that for a while,” Ely said.

But now the city of Altoona is revisiting Ely and the VFW Hall’s plan, sending out a survey to residents.

The Parks and Recreation survey asks them where they think a memorial should go.

“I would like to find out where it's going to be so we can start fundraising,” Ely said.

The long time Altoona man said he'd like to see a memorial at 10th Street and River Prairie Drive.

It would be in a city park near the River Prairie commercial development off Highway 53.

A location the city is also looking into is Centennial Park, which is off Spooner Avenue near the Eau Claire border.

But wherever the memorial is placed, City Administrator Mike Golat said Ely and the VFW will have to raise money for the project.

“We're not at the point yet where we can determine exactly what the city's participation would be. Right now the only commitment the city has made is providing a location for the park,” Golat said.

The estimated cost for the project is about $1 million.

Golat said another thing to consider is how the tribute will work with the surrounding area.

“We're also embarking on an overall plan for the 10th and River Prairie Drive park and we would have to see how that would fit in there,” Golat said.

He said the results of the survey should be presented to the City Council by May.

“Anybody who has served has taken time out of their lives, and they should be recognized for it. And their friends and relatives should be able to come and be proud of them,” Ely said.


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