Committee wants COVID memorial outside courthouse


A proposed design has been sketched for a memorial to remember the impact of COVID-19 on the community.

The design being considered is circular with a stone and three benches sitting in a circle on top of a stamped concrete pad. Chris Waltz, manager of the project, presented the proposed design to the Dubois County Commissioners Monday.

The committee working on the idea would like the memorial to be placed in a grassy area outside of the Dubois County Courthouse.

“We are currently focused on either the northeast or the southeast corner area of the courthouse grounds,” Waltz said.

The goal of the memorial is to remember the county residents who died from the virus and honor the emergency and front-line workers who risked their lives to work throughout the pandemic.

The committee is comprised of 13 people in different fields and from different parts of the county, and includes three county officials. They have been meeting to discuss ideas for creating and funding the memorial. “We built off the ideas we had and discussed the pros and cons of the ideas as we went,” Waltz said. “During the second meeting, we converged on the idea of a stone bench with images engraved and inscriptions about the pandemic and its impact on Dubois County.”

The committee got Fred Robberts, a retired art teacher, to help create a design. “He made many proposals that eventually evolved into the current proposal,” Waltz said.

The memorial would be 5 feet tall at its highest point and have a diameter of 10 feet. The estimated cost for the proposed design, which includes the stone, lettering and installation is $11,300.

The committee has members working on the wording and images that will be included on the memorial, so that cost estimates for those can be determined. The committee has also been in touch with the Dubois County Community Foundation and will reach out to other organizations and people about funding. More will be done with fundraising efforts once final approval on the design is received from the county, Waltz explained.

The commissioners gave their full support for proceeding with the idea. “Thank you for the effort you are putting in this,” Commissioner Nick Hostetter said.

They also thought aloud about the pros and cons for placing the memorial on the courthouse grounds

“I was partially thinking that we care a lot about this now. But will people care in 50 years? Is this something we want to make a permanent modification to the downtown Square for?” Commissioner Chad Blessinger said. “How many of us knew about the 1918 pandemic before this pandemic? I’d never heard of it.”

“Maybe that’s part of the reason to do it, so that we remember it,” said Commissioner Elmer Brames, who is on the committee. “This is something you’re going to read about in history books. This is something that you will tell your grandkids and great-grandkids about.”

Blessinger agreed. “Maybe it isn’t something we need to forget,” he said.

The commissioners also seemed to prefer the southeast side. They also felt that the design itself is functional.

“As the traffic moves around the Square, it would be seen better on the south side than what it would on the north side,” Brames said. “You’re almost past it and would have to look back at it, (if it was) on the north side.”

The committee believes it will have the support of the community when the time for fundraising comes.

“The project looks as though it will be well under $15,000,” Waltz said, “so we do not expect it to be difficult to garner that much support throughout the county for this project.”

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