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Budget crunch leaves completion of vets plaza up in the air

Greg Schlieve, Commander of American Legion Post #73, approached the Sunnyside City Council at Monday night's meeting to request assistance in getting funding for the remainder of the work being completed at Jerry Taylor Veterans Plaza.

The first 175 feet of the project has been completed with help from a number of people and organizations, including Home Depot, which donated enough paving stones for the entire length of the memorial in order to guarantee the stones will match.

Schlieve told the council that Home Depot would like a timeline for the use of the rest of the pavers in the remaining 225 feet of the project. In order to place the stones, curbing must be completed. That project, which may cost as much as $35,000, is currently beyond the means of the American Legion.

Schlieve told the council that the memorial is going to be the largest in the northwest and one of the largest in the United States and will bring tourism dollars to town when it is finished.

"I think this memorial is going to be, if not the crown jewel, one of the crown jewels of our city," he said.

He said a memorial service for soldiers is already planned to be held at the plaza on Monday, March 25, and other similar events will be drawn to the city as the downtown veterans plaza nears completion.

Schlieve asked the city, which is in charge of street maintenance, to provide help with the curbing and pavement. He also said another project would put lights into the monument. To accomplish the second project, the legion planned to apply for lodging tax funds.

Because of the city's budget crunch and the lack of funding in the public works department, the council could make no promises. However, the lodging tax committee and the public works committee were asked to consider options for the project.

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