The Old

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And The New!

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Our Memorial Lawn maintenance equipment and Memorial Day Cross' was stored in an 8X10 shed about two hundred yards from the Memorial.  The Memorial Grounds committee decided it was time for some improvement with a new maintenance building much closer to the Memorial.  With permission and encouragement from Ypsilanti Township, we moved forward.  We reached out to some of the same contractors who helped us add the parking spaces, ramp, and sidewalk around the Memorial.  They were some of the same contractors who volunteered time and talent when our Memorial was built and dedicated in 1991. 

After they agreed to help, spring turned out to be very wet, causing delays in most construction projects around the state.  The footing could not be dug until 5 May. 

New Building

The new building is 10 by 16 feet with an  8-foot wide garage door on the south end for the lawnmower.  It has an access door on the east side as well.  The walls are 12 feet high, to facilitate hanging storage of tools and equipment.  There is a load-bearing ceiling above the garage area for seasonal and longer-term storage items.  The building has two sealed windows in the north and south gable ends to provide some natural light during daylight hours.  There is LED lighting throughout. 

 DTE installed the transformer on the utility pole to supply electrical power to the Memorial Maintenance building.  The transformer was paid for from donations to the project. 

There are enough 120-volt outlets to facilitate charging batteries for electrical equipment. Our plan is to buy electric equipment for replacements of any gas equipment that reaches the end of its useful life.  There is also outside access to power for lights and sound systems used during ceremonies at the Memorial. 

The building is what they call stick built with steel siding and steel roof, to make it low maintenance and animal resistant.  We will do what we can to make the building bland-looking so that it does not draw the eye away from the memorial.  Eventually, we will hide the building behind arborvitae trees. 

The main building was designed and built by Todd M. Johnson Construction Company, with labor being provided by Ken Moldovan, son of Kenneth Moldovan, a VVA member who is remembered on our memorial bricks. 

The township is allowing us to continue to use our old shed for storage of crosses and retired flags and other items we rarely access.

We have water in the maintenance building for watering plants, shrubs, and the grounds, but also for cleaning the memorial and storage of our tools and equipment.  

Will Luker is designing the underground irrigation system and leading the way to find donors for the equipment and labor needed to install the system.  With both electricity and water, we are able to power wash the sidewalks and easily clean/rinse the Memorial.


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         Loading Shed To Trailer            November 15, 1995                       The Crew

Our original storage shed was hauled to its current location on November 15, 1995.  The shed was donated by The Friends group which is now the Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America, (AVVA). 


Diversified Excavating & Underground Utilities, LLC

Diversified Excavating dug the original trenches, and located the water main.

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             Chapter Challenge Coin               Water Line Shut-Off Valve


By then Doan Construction was more than 50 days behind its concrete delivery plans.  The same storms that caused the delay in getting the trench dug continued through the summer, causing a further delay with the concrete pour, and causing the ground around the trenches to collapse and fill with water. 


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Although COVID-19 relief payments made it hard for the industry to find competent employees, it was the rain delays that really backed things up.  That’s when Fredo reached out to Michigan Training Local 499 who came to the rescue. 

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Michigan Union Training Local 499

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          Local 499 Repairing The Rain Damage                Footing Forms Installed
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                  Footings Poured           Foundation Forms Installed  Local 499 Pouring The Foundation


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 The building's floor sand base was compacted and the cement floor was poured and trolled.


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The left half is the cement ramp that will lead to the overhead door to the maintenance building.  The right half is the building's 10X16 footprint.

Local 499 returned to do final grading, reseed, and final site cleanup and provide more wood chips for the area between the building and the trees so we don’t have to operate the mower near the building.  Both Local 499 and Diversified are planning to help us put in a small berm on the back property line that will allow us to plant native Michigan wildflowers and perennial grasses and plants, to provide a better backdrop for the memorial.

Wendy Hibbitts, AVVA member, and Memorial Grounds maintenance crew member, has promised to find the people needed to take the place of VVA Chapter members who retire from the maintenance crews so that maintenance will still be a personal thing done by volunteers for at least one more generation.

The above-mentioned maintenance crew members consist of four three-person teams that mow, trim and weed the Memorial grounds weekly under the watchful eye of Memorial grounds chair Al (Fredo) Merritt.  If you would like to be part of that please contact Fredo. 

Text:  Jon Luker

Images:  Jon Luker & Vance McCrumb