Firm hired to investigate Veterans memorial erosion

An effort is underway to solve a mystery regarding the Bartholomew County Memorial for Veterans.

It’s been three years since an unusual level of erosion was discovered on 21 small limestone base pieces at the facility next to the county courthouse.

While the county received a $48,000 quote to replace those base pieces back in 2016, county finances were too tight at that time to make the repairs. Meanwhile, the deterioration had continued to spread in recent years.

Although no tax dollars were used to create the $1.5 million memorial in 1997, it is going to take public funding to fix the erosion and deterioration at the 25-pillar complex.

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In a five-year capital maintenance and improvement plan issued last spring, the Bartholomew County commissioners set aside $300,000 to make repairs at the memorial.

However, nobody is exactly sure what is causing the erosion, and the Bartholomew County commissioners want to know exactly what the problem is before repairs are attempted, chairman Rick Flohr said.

This week, the commissioners agreed to pay Dunlap and Co. Inc. a maximum $7,500 to do some investigative work. Two inspection openings will be made at the existing limestone base to find out what’s causing the erosion. The work may also include getting under a column and removing two granite pavers to get a closer look, Flohr said.

“We want to know exactly what we’re getting into,” Flohr said. “Whoever bids on making repairs should have a good idea of what they are bidding on.”

Once Dunlap and Co. is able to identify problems, those details will be handed over to DLZ Indiana, an engineering and design firm, to come up with solutions, Flohr said.

Since it was Dunlap and Co. that originally installed the memorial, it seems appropriate they have been chosen to do the investigative work, DLZ engineer Charlie Day said.

Taylor Brothers Construction also offered to do the inspection, but their bid was slightly higher than the one from Dunlap and Co.

The investigative work at the memorial is likely begin soon because the county wants to complete the bid document quickly, commissioner Larry Kleinhenz said.

“We want to get the work started by June or July, and be completed by fall,” Kleinhenz said.

Arranged in a 5-row by 5-row grid, the memorial has 25 pillars each standing 40-feet high.

Originally, the memorial contained 170 names of Bartholomew County residents who died while serving in the military, as well as excerpts from diaries and last letters home.

As more war-related deaths occurred and more families sought inclusion of lost loved ones, additions were approved that now brings the total number of names on the memorial to nearly 190.

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The Bartholomew County Memorial for Veterans, completed in 1997, is a five-row by five-row grid of limestone pillars each 40 feet high. The memorial includes the engraved names of county residents who gave their lives during military service to the country.