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E’town council delays maintenance agreement for Veterans Tribute

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City leaders concerned about how responsibilities for fund will be shared

By Marty Finley

Elizabethtown City officials on Monday delayed approval of a maintenance agreement for the Hardin County Veterans Tribute at the Elizabethtown Nature Park off Ring Road because of concerns surrounding its maintenance.

Councilman Marty Fulkerson told Elizabethtown City Council he could not vote for the agreement as drafted because it contains language releasing the Hardin County Veterans Tribute committee from any responsibility in taking care of memorial once it is completed.

Like many projects in the past, Fulkerson said, the agreement makes it too easy for the committee to drop maintenance of the memorial into the city’s lap.

Fulkerson supports the committee’s work in placing the memorial and believes it is a great tribute to the military, but the agreement should include some incentives to encourage the committee to provide money for the maintenance, he said.

Mayor Tim Walker said the committee has committed to selling all of the pavers and bricks on the site and that any excess money not needed to pay for the construction of the tribute will be put into a fund.

But some council members wondered aloud if the fundraising would end with the pavers or would the committee hold additional initiatives to assist with the fund.

Rik Hawkins, a member of the Hardin County Veterans Tribute committee, said it always has been the intention of the committee to offer up any excess funds raised for the tribute into a fund which the city could access for maintenance.

The concerns will be addressed next week during the council’s work session as officials discuss the agreement with the committee.

“I think it’s very good for our committee to sit down with the council,” Hawkins continued. To make sure the (questions are answered), he said.

But Hawkins said he expects the issue to be resolved soon and the agreement approved and in place.

“We see no problems whatsoever,” he said.

It was the second time the city has addressed the agreement ahead of its approval. Prior to Monday, city officials had inquired as to how they could ensure access to the maintenance fund if it is placed in the control of the Hardin County Veterans Tribute and fallout occurs. Finance Director Steve Park said the city could build safeguards into the agreement that would allow the city to take control of the fund should the agreement sour or the committee walk away from the project.

The memorial is progressing after the city approved a contract with McNutt Construction just under $1.5 million for work on the Nature Park. Park has said the city will need to finish its work around September 2012 so the committee would have time to finish its work on the memorial in time for a Veterans Day 2012 opening.

Hawkins has said he hopes to land U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., for the grand reveal of the tribute to the public for his extensive military resume and his time spent as a prisoner of war.

Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762 or mfinley@thenewsenterprise.com.