COLUMBUS, Ind. – Officials are hiring an area company to investigate pockets of erosion that are causing parts of the Bartholomew County Veterans Memorial to crumble and crack.
The commissioners plan to pay Columbus-based Dunlap and Company, Inc. up to $7,500 to find out what is causing several of the memorial’s limestone pillars to crack at the base. Dunlap and Co., Inc. is the same company that installed the 25 pillars in 1997. The 40-feet tall pillars stand just outside the Bartholomew County Courthouse. The pillars are etched with roughly 190 names of county residents who have died while serving in the military over the years.
“These men and women put their lives down for it,” said Bartholomew County Veteran Services Officer Larry Garrity. “They didn’t have to go, they went. And I think it’s a good learning experience for people to go out there and pay their respects.”
Signs of erosion started showing up on the pillars a few years ago, and would seem to be too advanced for a limestone structure just over 20 years old.
So far, nobody is quite sure what’s causing the damage to the pillars. County officials hope the investigation by Dunlap and Co. will provide the answer so repair plans can be made.
“It’s representing those people who died for our country,” said Columbus resident Josh Kroot. “And I want to see that those people are given the respect they deserve.”
Chelsea Burrell is the granddaughter of a four-time Purple Heart recipient. She hopes the investigation and eventual repairs will restore the monument to its original state.
“Columbus is built on an architectural community,” Burrell said. “So one of the biggest architectural points of the community is going to be these memorials and addressing it and keeping it, honoring those that have fallen is probably one of the most important things.”
Garrity, who is a Vietnam Veteran himself, says the memorial represents the Columbus area’s strong connection to military service and sacrifice. He wishes the investigation would have started sooner. But he is glad to see it moving forward.
“When people come across that bridge and they see that, from out of town or someplace, it shows them that this city respects the people who died for our freedoms,” Garrity said.
Once the cause of the erosion is identified, county commissioners will issue bids for the repairs. The county’s five-year capital maintenance and improvement plan has $300,000 set aside to cover the cost of repairs. County officials hope to have repair work started by this summer and finished by the fall.