MONTPELIER — Kevin Motter was visibly upset Thursday at the seemingly senseless vandalism of an engraved granite bench at the Williams County Veterans Memorial Plaza, an ongoing project located next to the county fairgrounds in Montpelier.
Sometime between late Wednesday and Thursday afternoon, someone knocked off the back seat panel, and also snapped off a large piece of the bench seat, which lay next to the bench on the backside of the outdoor memorial.
The back seat panel is engraved with a message that the bench was dedicated by Pioneer VFW Post 8628 to honor those past and present who “have paid the price” for our freedom.
The vandalism evidently occurring on the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landing made it that much more dishonorable.
“I can’t think of something more disrespectful,” said Motter, commander of Montpelier’s American Legion Post No. 109. He also oversees the approximately 2,500-square-foot veterans memorial plaza, a project in progress to honor all of Williams County’s military veterans.
With help from the community and Fackler Monument Company, of Montpelier, the veterans memorial committee has been replacing the 15 old and weather-deteriorated veterans monuments — which had more than 30,000 names of county residents who served in the military, from the Revolutionary War to the current War on Terror in Afghanistan — with new granite monuments, called chevrons.
Motter said the replacement is close to about half complete so far.
Once complete, the chevrons will bear the engraved name of every Williams County resident who served in the U.S. military. The total cost of the plaza renovations has been estimated at about $200,000, depending on future market values and transportation costs.
Unfortunately, Motter said Friday, Fackler has determined the vandalized bench cannot be repaired. He estimated the cost of a new bench at about $1,200. He said it’s unclear right now how that will be paid.
Donations to the memorial are accepted. The mailing address for the Williams County Veterans Memorial is: P.O. Box 173, Montpelier, OH 43543.
The memorial plaza is on county property and is patrolled by the Williams County Sheriff’s Office, which has jurisdiction, though the Montpelier Police Department also keeps an eye on the plaza. The sheriff’s office is investigating. If you have any information on the bench vandalism, or see anything suspicious, call the sheriff’s office during business hours at 419-636-8497, or call 911.