by Caleb Sebora
LESTER PRAIRIE, MN One of the monuments in the Lester Prairie Veterans Memorial in Central Square Park was knocked over and severely damaged when a pickup truck ran into it early Friday morning.
According to Chester Hoernemann, Lester Prairie Legion Post 463 commander, witnesses at One Eyed Willy’s Bar and Grill, which is located along Central Avenue near the memorial, heard a crash at about 12:30 a.m. Friday morning and ran outside, where they saw a red, four-door pickup struggling southbound on Juniper St. They then noticed that one of the monuments had been knocked over.
“I was in disbelief,” Hoernemann said about his reaction when he first heard about the incident.
The monument that was hit was the first on the north end of the row of monuments, and was lying facedown, with a large chunk of one corner broken off, and there were shards of granite scattered on the sidewalk.
Also, according to Hoernemann, there were a lot of black plastic pieces and red paint on the overturned monument.
Police are investigating the incident.
Construction of the memorial, which is located near the intersection of Juniper Street and Central Avenue, began in 2010 with the installation of a flag pole.
The memorial initially featured four monuments, with a larger granite centerpiece. It has since grown to six monuments.
The monument committee is still looking to add veterans’ names for more monuments. Names can be purchased at a cost of $100 for three lines of space.
It is unclear whether the damaged monument can be repaired, or if a new monument will need to be purchased. According to Hoernemann, a repair is “doubtful, at best.”
Braham Monument, the company which created and installed the monuments for the memorial, will pick up the damaged monument Wednesday, Aug. 17 and assess the damage. The company will then provide the Legion with an estimate on how much the repair or replacement will cost.
Hoernemann said he expects the estimated cost of a replacement to be about $6,000.
Anyone who would like to make a donation to help the American Legion with the cost of the replacement may contact Ralph Machehmehl, chairman of the American Legion Post 463 Monument Committee, at (320) 395-2246.