Foundation offers up funding for veterans monument

Hamilton leaders hope they can use $250,000 to compel Butler County’s commissioners to fix a century-old monument dedicated to the area’s fallen service members.

The Hamilton Community Foundation offered to donate $250,000 to the county to help fix the roof and make any other needed renovations to the Soldiers, Sailors and Pioneers Monument located in the city’s downtown at One South Monument Avenue.

But there’s a catch — the nonprofit organization wants the county to match the offer, and it will only leave the $250,000 on the table for the next 12 months, local architect Mike Dingeldein told Butler County Commissioners Monday during a regularly scheduled meeting. He said the county has deferred maintenance on the monument during the recession.

“We’re hoping our challenge, our offer will help the county find some additional funding,” Dingeldein said, calling the repairs “critical maintenance” that need to be completed in 2015.

The monument is significant to local history, Dingeldein added, because it lists the name of every Butler County enlisted service member who has died during war. The building was completed in 1906.

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Commissioners didn’t give a hint Monday as to how they’ll respond to the offer. Commissioner T.C. Rogers said in a phone interview that county officials will evaluate the offer.

“We do appreciate that (the monument) is a symbol of our past, ” Rogers said. He added that “all of our physical buildings have suffered” during the recession.

Hamilton historian Jim Blount said the foundation would like to eventually open the memorial up more frequently for visitors or meetings. Currently, the museum is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. He said county officials who are in charge of the building, however, have been reluctant to hire more staff to keep it open.

“It could be used more than it is now,” Blount said. “But, it needs repair desperately. About every 25 or 30 years, somebody decides it needs to be repaired (and) it becomes an emergency.”

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