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March 08, 2012 8:57 am

Restoring the Powell High School Veterans’ Memorial

Written by Tessa Schweigert

Deteriorating plaques removed, stucco to be replaced with granite

When holes first appeared in plaques at the Powell High School Veterans’ Memorial, some residents feared vandalism was to blame. But upon closer inspection, corrosion clearly was the culprit.

“It wasn’t vandalism. They were just falling apart,” said Chuck Hewitt, Powell city parks superintendent.

The plaques feature photos and biographies of 32 local veterans who were prisoners of war or killed in action.

Chemicals in the stucco walls apparently reacted with zinc in the plaques, and over the past several years, the metal corroded.

“It was obviously a chemical problem,” said John Collins, owner of Marquis Awards, where the deteriorating plaques are being stored until new replacements are ordered. Collins called it a very unusual situation.

Dean Roberts, a retired contractor and veteran who oversaw the west-end memorial’s construction in 2005, said lime in the stucco may have caused the reaction. Hewitt added that moisture over the years also contributed to the problem.

“No one would have expected this,” Roberts said. “It’s just one of those things that happens that is unforeseen.”

To restore the memorial, the city is leading an effort to replace the damaged plaques, remove the problem stucco and refinish the walls with new material.

“All the stucco has to come off … most of their pictures have to be replaced, because they were in the process of disintegrating, basically,” Hewitt said.

Hewitt has discussed the restoration project with Cody artist Dennis Monroy, who worked on several monuments at the Wyoming Veterans Memorial Park in Cody.

In his proposed design, Monroy plans to replace the interior stucco with black granite panels and mount the new plaques with an epoxy. A granite capstone will encircle the horseshoe-shaped memorial to help protect plaques from rain and snow.

The wall and foundation underneath the stucco are solid and in good condition, Hewitt said.

On the exterior wall, the rock work will be sealed. The original rocks — gathered from local areas — will remain in place.

The restoration project is expected to cost about $30,000. Replacement and installation of the granite panels are estimated to cost $18,000, and new plaques will total about $12,000.

The city will cover a portion of the cost, and a fundraising effort also is under way. Hewitt said residents and businesses can sponsor plaque replacements for $400 each.

The community’s support was instrumental in creating the memorial, Roberts said.

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, and Roberts said he followed that design with slight modifications.

Through the city of Powell and the now disbanded Target Powell Valley, land at the corner of Road 10 and U.S. 14-A was designated for the memorial. City crews oversee maintenance of the memorial site.

The memorial cost more than $100,000 to build. That money was raised through donations from residents, businesses and organizations as well as in-kind contributions, such as time, materials and labor.

“There was a considerable amount of volunteer work,” Roberts said.

He added that residents take pride in the veterans’ memorial, and he said he often saw passersby stop at the site.

“It’s good that it’s going to be repaired,” Roberts said.

Hewitt hopes work can begin as soon as possible.

The sign identifying the memorial also will be replaced “as soon as the ground thaws out,” Hewitt said.

For the men behind the memorial restoration — Hewitt, Monroy and Roberts — the project is personal. All three men served in the United States Armed Forces. As veterans, they hope to ensure Powell’s veterans are honored for years to come.

These men risked their lives for America, Hewitt said.

“It’s about showing respect for fallen soldiers,” Monroy said.

He said it’s important to address all possible future problems in the restoration project to avoid another situation like this.

“I try to do work that lasts forever,” Monroy said.

To donate toward the restoration effort, contact Chuck Hewitt at 754-9417 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Donations also can be sent to the Powell High School Veterans’ Memorial Fund, c/o City of Powell, P.O. Box 1008, Powell WY 82435.

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