From the Publisher

Firefighters Memorial shows important signs of life
David Keyes
Outlook publisher

Thanks to some retired firefighters, a state representative, a contractor, a former mayor and others, there was again a pulse Monday to get the state’s Firefighters Memorial project moving again.
Nobody can deny the importance of recognizing those citizens who put their lives on the line in order to protect all of us. Especially in Montana – and specifically in Laurel – these firefighters are volunteers and leave work or jump out of bed when the alarms go off.
Laurel’s volunteer firefighting force is second to none in the state and we are reminded of their role when we hear the numerous sirens day and night. Those of us who haven’t volunteered to save our community are grateful for those who do.
It is appropriate the memorial be built here.
There are many reasons construction has lagged at the site next to Laurel’s Public Safety Complex. Gov. Judy Martz gave the green light in 2004. Nothing really happened at the site until last summer when concrete was laid, flag poles were raised and lights put in.
But a threat by the state legislature to move the memorial to Helena during the past session may have been the spark many of us have been waiting for. After a few tense meetings, the state’s firefighting chiefs and others gave Laurel a two-year reprieve.
Former mayor and firefighter Ken Olson was at the site Monday as community members and businesses combined to do some preliminary work.
There is much more to be done but Olson is on the right track and the committee is attracting the right people
Steve Lehenbauer, owner of River Ridge Landscape, has stepped up big time. The memorial’s first plan carried a $1 millon pricetag. Lehenbauer’s plan winnows that down to $150,000. While that is a huge reduction, it is still $150,000 that hasn’t been raised.
Looks like that is what it is going to take to get it done – a realistic plan, volunteers and a community coming together.
Olson and company are sounding the alarm that it is now or never for the state’s overdue Firefighter Memorial to be done and done right.
The time is right to get this done and we are grateful this group has come together to complete this important project. Stay tuned…

David Keyes is publisher of the Laurel Outlook.

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The Laurel Outlook


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