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Donors respond quickly to fund Randolph veterans memorial, shattering organizers' expectations
Fundraising goes faster than expected

Donors respond quickly to fund Randolph veterans memorial, shattering organizers' expectations

Randolph Veterans Memorial

From left, John Gubbels, Tim Kint, Kelsey Backer and Bob Kint discuss features shown on a layout for the Randolph Area Veterans Memorial in Randolph, Neb. The community has raised more than $160,000, easily meeting its initial fundraising goal, in a little more than three months. Design alterations have increased the goal to $190,000.

RANDOLPH, Neb. -- After spending more than two years developing plans for a new veterans memorial in Randolph, committee members were prepared to spend at least another year raising the money to pay for it.

With a fundraising goal of $160,000, the veterans memorial committee kicked off the official campaign on March 31, hoping to reach that total by Veterans Day -- 2020.

"We figured maybe next year we'd be able to start (construction)," committee member Bob Kint said.

That estimation was way off.

The committee started with $17,000 in hand. It took only a little more than three months to increase that to $163,000, and donations continue to come in. Earth work began earlier this month, a year ahead of schedule.

"It's been unbelievable. People really stepped up," committee chairman Tim Kint said.

It's a refrain heard often in small towns across Siouxland. When there's a need, residents step up and give.

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Even when the Randolph Area Veterans Memorial was still just in the planning stages, committee member John Gubbels said.

"We felt like it was something that could go, but we didn't figure it would be this fast," Gubbels said. "Some people just heard the talk about it and they gave money."

It's often tricky to predict the response to a fundraising campaign, and one never knows how people will respond to an appeal to their checkbooks.

It's one reason why, Tim Kint said, the eight-member committee set a conservative timeline in its effort to replace the former veterans memorial, which was ruined by a wind storm in 2016.

Committee members spent a couple years talking to monument companies and other communities that had built veterans memorials, asking what problems they had encountered so Randolph would not repeat them. And they needed to find a site.

Randolph Veterans Memorial

Bob Kint, left, and John Gubbels stand in front of the construction site of the Randolph Area Veterans Memorial. The memorial will replace the previous memorial, which was destroyed by a wind storm in 2016. It's hoped that the new memorial will be finished sometime next year.

The former site, located along Broadway Street in Randolph's business district, had been sold. The committee considered several options, and chose a piece of city-owned land near the entrance to Veterans Memorial Park. It's a high-visibility area with traffic passing on the way to the park, a nursing home and the golf course. It didn't hurt that the city agreed to pay for the insurance at the site.

"We looked at eight to 10 spots around town and every time we kept coming back to the spot we're building at," Tim Kint said.

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Kint sketched a design, which has evolved slightly over time. Four granite pillars will include the names of all men and women from Randolph and nearby communities of Belden and McLean (children from both towns attend school in Randolph) who have served in the military. Another granite monument will have laser-engraved pictures on it. A Gold Star monument will list the names of Randolph natives who died in their service. The memorial will have eight flagpoles and a separate POW/MIA section. Six granite benches will give visitors a place to sit and reflect.

Almost immediately, Kint said, donors stepped forward to purchase flagpoles, benches and monuments, contributing nearly $120,000 to the cause. The sale of personalized bricks that will ring the memorial has raised another $30,000.

Randolph Veterans Memorial drawing

An artist rendering shows what the Randolph Area Veterans Memorial will look like when completed.

Other fundraising events have taken place, and individual donors have contributed as well.

Some alterations have been made to the design, upping the fundraising goal to $190,000, a total committee members are confident will be reached.

While fundraising continues, so does research to compile the list of veterans whose names will be on the memorial. Concrete and electrical work should be completed this summer, and the engraving is expected to be done during the winter, as long as the granite arrives from Europe in time.

There's no target date for completion, but Kint said it would be great if the memorial were finished by Memorial Day next spring.

"I think we're moving along as fast as we can," he said.

Considering the initial time line committee members were looking at, the project is moving at light speed.

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"It's something the community can be proud of," Gubbels said.

He was speaking about the memorial, but he could just as easily have been talking about the generosity shown by a community that has embraced the effort to honor its veterans.


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