A memorial honoring one of Hamilton’s fallen firefighters had shown signs of weathering and rust, but one of the city’s newer companies made sure that won’t happen again ― or at least for a very long time.
A metal bench was designed and built in 2017 by Daniel Nienabar, a then-17-year-old Boy Scout from Harrison, for his Eagle Scout project in memory of Patrick Wolterman, the Hamilton firefighter who died in the line of duty on Dec. 28, 2015.
The bench was installed at Rotary Park in downtown Hamilton.
Time and weather caused the coating on the bench to flake, and rust and damage started to show.
The bench is one of many tributes the city of Hamilton has seen to Wolterman, who died in the line of duty on Dec. 28, 2015. He was part of the crew from Station 25 fighting a house fire on Pater Avenue. The first floor collapsed, and he fell into the basement. He died of smoke inhalation, and his death was ruled a homicide as the cause of the fire was arson. Wolterman was 28 years old.
Tom Vanderhorst, Hamilton’s executive director of External Services noticed the condition of the bench and took the matter to the Hamilton Parks Conversancy Board.
Serendipitously, Vanderhorst was in an economic development meeting with Darana Hybrid “where I showed them the picture (of the bench’s condition) and they said they could strip the bench and their new powder coating machine could refinish it.”
And they did the work pro bono.
With the help of some of Darana Hybrid’s vendors, they were able to powder coat the bench with one of the largest automated systems in the country, said Tyler Shinaberry, senior executive consultant with Darana Hybrid, a 100% Native American-owned Hamilton-headquartered company that relocated in 2017 from Memphis, Tenn. The powder coating supplier used a special powder mixed with UV protectants to keep the bench protected.
“We were able to use our advanced technology to be able to do something that might not have easily been done otherwise,” Shinaberry said. “Now, it won’t have any problems in the future.”
Community outreach is “fundamental” for the company, he said. “In every community, the fire department exemplifies selflessness, courage, and dedication. We were humbled and honored to work with our local fire department on a project symbolic of the ultimate sacrifice in public servitude and heroism. This project has also opened the conversation to build programs with our K-12 schools, adult workforce opportunities and to use community artistic and functional projects as a means to highlight opportunities of industry ― not only at Darana Hybrid but throughout Hamilton.”
Darana Hybrid is an electrical and mechanical installations company that assembles large conveyor systems and has locations in Tipp City, Memphis, Tenn., and Smyrna, Tenn.
The company moved to Hamilton because CEO Darryl Cuttell “fell in love with the city, its small-town/big-capability culture, the work ethic of the people and an opportunity to transform Lindenwald and build up an abandoned facility in a struggling area,” Shinaberry said.
Tony Harris, IAFF Local 20 president, said this bench is a reminder for those who live in town and know Wolterman’s story. But also, he said, it’s an opportunity to share his story with newcomers and visitors.
“For us, it’s a public place that you wouldn’t normally expect to see something like that, and hopefully, when people walk by, they take a second, take a look at it, and if they don’t know the story about Patrick, maybe they start to look up something and read what he did and his sacrifice.”
Harris said the restoration “was an amazing gift that they gave.”
“They really took the ball and ran with it, and we really didn’t have to ask for anything,” he said. “It’s a newer company in town, but it’s a friend we made. They really stepped for us big time, and we appreciate it.