The Tribute Towers—Remembering Our Fallen, a traveling photographic war memorial honoring our country’s military fallen from the War on Terror, will be on display during the Williams County Fair Sept. 7-14.
Tarry Eicher, of Montpelier, briefed Montpelier Village Council on the exhibit at council’s meeting Monday. Eicher is a Gold Star mother who lost her son, Marine Sgt. Michael P. Hodshire, of Montpelier, to an improvised explosive device in Iraq in 2005.
Eicher said the memorial is scheduled to arrive in Montpelier on Sept. 6, escorted into town by the American Legion Motorcycle Riders, along with a firetruck, police escort, and, she said, possibly the Budweiser Clydesdales. She said the exhibit will be housed inside the Williams County Veterans Memorial building next to the fairgrounds.
The exhibit consists of 31 towers with pictures of over 5,000 veterans — including Eicher’s son — who have died since 9/11.
Eicher said the exhibit costs $8,500 and a fundraiser will be held June 29 to help defray the cost. Send donations to either the Williams County Veterans Service Office, 1425 E. High St. Room 106, Bryan, OH 43506, or to Tarry Eicher-Fikel at 216 W. Main St., Montpelier, OH 43543. Checks should be made payable to “VFW Tribute Towers.” For more information, call the Williams County Veterans Service Office at 419-636-8812 or Eicher at 419-485-1678.
In a somewhat related presentation, West Unity Village Administrator Joshua Fritsch and resident Mike Frybarger made a presentation about Hometown Hero Banners, which West Unity is launching this year. These 2-by-4-foot patriotic-themed banners will hang from electric poles in the downtown area during the summer with photos of current or former residents who have served in the military. Families, service groups or others can order the banners and provide the military photo. The charge is $140.
Council members and Mayor Steve Yagelski expressed support for bringing the initiative to Montpelier as early as this year.
“It fits together, with (the Tribute Towers-Remembering Our Fallen) and our Patriots Point and the Williams County Veterans Memorial honoring our veterans here in Montpelier, this plays right into this,” noted council member Cheri Streicher.
Council also heard year-end reports from the police and fire departments on Monday. Police Lt. Darrell Higbie, subbing for Chief Dan McGee, said the department answered 4,407 service calls in 2018, up from 4,180 in 2017.
In response to a question from Streicher, Higbie said the department “is seeing more drug-related crimes, especially overdoses,” and that the department is using “a lot” of Narcan, which it receives from the county health department, to revive overdose victims.
Fire Chief Dail Fritsch said his department responded to 146 service calls in 2018, including 49 for structure fires. Fritsch said call volume is already up to 55 this year, “and if that continues, we’ll be well over 200 by the end of the year,” he said.
Fritsch said the all-volunteer department numbers 26 right now, and while he added five new members in 2017, no new members joined in 2018. He did proudly note that department response time averaged 5.55 minutes in 2018, which is below the national average.
In other action, council heard from Benaiah “Ben” Harris, Pastor of House of Prayer, in Montpelier, who sought the council’s guidance on the garden plot on Henry Street that formerly was overseen by Pastor Craig Bard, who has left House of Prayer to found his own church.
Harris said he was not interested in working the plot or being involved in it other than assisting several other churches in the community that have expressed interest in planting and tending a garden there this year. Council supported Harris’ efforts to coordinate other churches that are interested in gardening there.