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Walnutport veterans memorial to get an upgrade

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    Doneta Merkle, a member of the 2009 Centennial Committee, addresses the veterans memorial with Walnutport Borough Council on Thursday. TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS

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    A look at the Walnutport veterans memorial at the small park between Washington Street and Fifth Street. TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS

Published April 13. 2019 05:58AM

Funds secured for Walnutport’s veterans memorial will be used to upgrade the monument.

Several members of the 2009 Centennial Committee attended Thursday’s borough council meeting to discuss the status of the funding that was set aside for improvements to the memorial.

Committee member Doneta Merkle said members of the Centennial Committee were on hand to discuss the use of the remaining money left in the Centennial fund, which is about $11,000.

Merkle told council the wish of the Centennial Committee is for those funds to be utilized toward the veterans memorial located in the small park between Washington and Fifth streets.

“There was a general consensus,” Merkle said. “In our mind, that was where the money was supposed to go.”

Mayor Wayne Weidner, also a member of the Centennial Committee, then weighed in on the subject.

“My thought is that’s where it should go,” Weidner said.

Centennial Committee member Marilyn Kaul echoed that sentiment.

“I agree that it should go to the memorial,” Kaul said. “And that’s what the committee decided.”

Council then gave borough grant coordinator Michael Wentz permission to speak with the new Northampton County Open Space coordinator to see if engineering fees that were spent could be used as part of the match.

Merkle then asked if the Centennial Committee should provide a signed letter to council.

Borough solicitor Michael Corriere said that while it wasn’t mandatory for that to be done, it probably would be in good faith to do so.

It was then agreed that the Centennial Committee would write a signed letter to council that states it wants to use the money left over in the Centennial fund toward the memorial.

Resident Ricky Smith said the project has to be completed by December per the grant deadline.

“We’re going to need everyone else’s support to make sure this goes,” Smith said. “We just need everybody’s commitment.”

Michael Kukitz, who served as executive director of the Northern Lehigh Recreation Authority until he resigned last month, previously obtained a grant for the veterans memorial.

The grant amount is $23,983, and was funded by a grant through the Northampton County Livable Landscapes Program, Northampton County’s Open Space Initiative.

However, it is a matching grant, and the borough has to provide the other 50 percent. The match may be cash, in-kind services or a combination of both.

It was agreed that the borough’s 50 percent would come through a combination of the roughly $11,000 left in the Centennial fund, along with in-kind services and/or volunteer services.

Kukitz previously said the grant is to be used for beautification and accessibility improvements.

Among the work will include the removal of trees and putting in new decorative trees, flagpoles, benches, lighting and improved access to the memorial.

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