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Gold Star Families Memorial construction underway, dedication postponed

April 14 2020
Jeff Papworth |Idaho State Journal

The finish line is in sight for the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument and Plaza in Pocatello.

The target date for the completion of the memorial is late May, according to Ken Pape, director of operation for Portneuf Development who is helping oversee the construction.

Local Gold Star Mother Rebecca Webb, who launched this project, is pleased with how the construction is faring.

“I’ve been so blessed by the generosity of the community and businesses and individuals and contractors and everybody that I have had the opportunity to work with that are pulling together to build this monument,” Webb said. “It’s really been an encouragement to me, and I’m in contact with a lot of Gold Star Families across the state of Idaho and I know how much this monument means to them too.”

The memorial’s dedication was originally scheduled for mid-June, but a decision was made last week to postpone the event until further notice because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Webb has long looked forward to dedication day, but said a large gathering was not conducive to the current situation and neither was having people travel a long distance to the event.

“It was not an easy decision for us, but we felt like it was probably the right decision that we made,” said Webb, a Pocatello resident. “We’ll just look forward with anticipation to when we can hold that dedication. I think it will be good and I know that it will happen.”

Pape said the monument is already built and the flag poles have been received for the memorial. But other tasks remain, including placing the monument and flag poles into the concrete.

He also said the end date of construction could be pushed back if the weather does not cooperate.

The groundbreaking for the project was in April 2019, but construction started in early March because of multiple factors including the weather.

“We had to wait until the frost came out of the ground,” Pape said. “We couldn’t get it done fast enough last year. The weather came up on us pretty quick and there’s a lot of moving parts in there to get it to this stage.”

Pape said the coronavirus outbreak has not stalled construction and additional precautions are being taken. Workers are wearing face masks and gloves, and meetings are held outdoors instead of in confined spaces.

“There’s a lot of people involved and they’re not stopping,” Pape said. “They know how critical this is for fallen soldiers. They take pride in it. That’s what it’s about.”

In the summer of 2018, Webb became motivated to take on this project after going to an American Gold Star Mothers national convention in California and meeting World War II veteran Hershel “Woody” Williams, whose foundation provides direction for Gold Star Families Memorial Monuments and has since provided guidance for the Pocatello monument.

Webb became a Gold Star mother after the death of her son Master Sgt. Christopher V. Webb, who served for nearly 18 years in the Idaho National Guard and died in June 2017.

In time, she will celebrate the dedication of the monument honoring fallen service members like her son, as well as families who lost them.

“It’s going to be built and that’s very exciting for me and everyone on the committee,” Webb said. “But more important is what this monument means and I think it will really be good for the state of Idaho and our community and good for southeastern Idaho.”

People can make donations for the construction of the monument at idahogoldstarmemorial.com.