The city of Powell spearheaded an effort to restore the Powell High School Veterans Memorial on the west end after the original plaques began deteriorating.
Lime in the memorial’s stucco walls reacted with the zinc plaques, eating away at the metal.
The plaques feature the names and images of 32 local men who were killed in action or imprisoned during wartime.
Restoring the memorial and ensuring the plaques were replaced became a priority for Chuck Hewitt, a veteran and the city’s parks superintendent.
“It’s not just a project to me. It was honoring those boys who are on that wall. We served, but they gave the ultimate,” Hewitt said. “I just didn’t think it was right not to give them our best … and they got our best.”
The horseshoe-shaped memorial now features polished black granite walls, the same as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Marquis Awards in downtown Powell created the new bronze plaques. The renovation project cost totaled about $32,000. The city covered most of the cost, along with some private donations.
Restoration work began last year. Local Boy Scouts pitched in, helping strip walls of the old material.
“The Boy Scouts helped quite a bit to get it ready,” Hewitt said.
City crews cleaned up the site and prepared the memorial for restoration.
Dennis Monroy of Cody, who owns Design Fabrication Installation, then rebuilt the memorial with granite walls and bronze plaques.
“Dennis really gave us a lot. He designed it and gave a lot of his time to get it done,” Hewitt said.
He also allowed the city to purchase the granite at cost, without any mark-up, Hewitt added.
Monroy also is a veteran, so the project carried personal meaning.
“We always take care of our own, and that’s the way it’s always been with veterans,” Monroy said.
It’s important to honor their legacy, he added.
In addition, Monroy designed and built a new sign for the memorial, also featuring black granite and stone.
The high school repainted the metal flag that stands in the memorial’s center.
The original wall and foundation were solid and in good condition, Hewitt said. It was just a matter of removing the problematic stucco material.
On the exterior wall, the original rocks — gathered from local areas — remain in place.
Powell High School teachers and students joined with local veterans to lead the effort to build the memorial, which was first envisioned in 2000 and completed in 2005. A PHS student designed the memorial.
Dean Roberts, a retired contractor and veteran who oversaw the memorial’s construction, said the restored memorial looks beautiful.
“They’ve done a great job,” he said. Along with other Korean War veterans from the area, Roberts will be involved with rededicating the memorial. A meeting will take place June 20 to plan a rededication ceremony. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at the American Legion in Powell, and Hewitt said anyone is welcome to attend.
The restoration project is almost entirely finished. Monroy said he will add one more piece of granite in the center of the memorial, recognizing those involved with restoring the memorial.
Surrounded by the images of veterans who died serving their country, a Bible verse from John 15 also will be engraved: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”