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Military statue gets emotional welcome in Bloomfield
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Military statue gets emotional welcome in Bloomfield

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BLOOMFIELD — A military statue depicting an American solider has found its home in Bloomfield.

Thanks to a community-wide fundraising effort, the six-foot-tall statue — which weighs about 1,200 pounds — was installed June 28 next to an existing war memorial outside the village post office.

The memorial lists the names of veterans from the Bloomfield area who have died in combat.

For some in the community, watching the statue arrive by truck and be placed next to the memorial was an emotional experience.

“It actually numbs my heart,” Bloomfield resident Myra Gallagher said. “It truly belongs.”

The statue was brought to the village through a community-wide fundraising effort led by a group called the Bloomfield Statue Fund Committee.

Richard Olenoski, a member of the committee, said the group began raising funds in November after village officials issued a permit allowing a statue.

The village board voted down a proposal to erect the statue near the Bloomfield Town Hall building because of potential costs to the village. But the board OK’d placing the privately funded statue outside the post office at N1265 Park Road.

Olenoski said the statue cost about $5,000, but the committee raised twice that amount. The rest of the money will be used to install lighting, security cameras and benches.

“People donated and donated,” Olenoski said.

The committee received donations from residents, businesses and patrons of a fundraiser held at a Culver’s restaurant in Lake Geneva. The civic organization known as Modern Woodman of American also donated $2,500.

Rebecca Brittain, treasurer of the committee, said she was impressed by the number of people who donated to the cause.

As the statue was removed from a wooden box, hoisted with a forklift and stationed onto a concrete slab outside the post office, Brittain said she was overjoyed.

“It gave me goosebumps,” she said. “It looks great standing there.”

Olenoski said plans are in the works for a dedication ceremony on Veterans Day in November.

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Sam Melchi, a member of Lake Geneva Scout Troop 239, said he plans to build benches for visitors to the memorial as part of an Eagle Scout project.

Melchi said he was excited about making a contribution to the display.

“It’s just to going to make it pop,” he said.

Members of the scout troop cleaned the area around the memorial in preparation for the statue’s installation.

The statue was purchase from Minnesota-based SVJ Creative Designs.

David Speedling, co-owner the company, said his company manufactures about 3,000 statues a year, including depictions of police officers and firefighters, as well as animals, gargoyles and other figures.

Speedling, who operates the business with his wife, Shelly Speedling, said the couple left Minnesota in the wee hours June 28 to deliver the military statue in Bloomfield that afternoon.

Speedling enjoyed seeing the community’s heartfelt response when the statue was un-crated and revealed.

“We don’t work very many Sundays, and we normally don’t get out of bed at 6:30 a.m.,” he said. “But we’re excited about coming down and being a part of it.”

Olenoski said now that the statue is in place, the next steps are to complete the display with the benches, security cameras and lighting.

“We still have a lot of work yet,” he said.

Darlene Olenoski, his wife, said her husband worked tirelessly — along with other community members — to bring the statue to Bloomfield as a tribute to the community’s fallen soldiers.

Darlene said the statue will draw more attention to the veterans memorial.

“A lot of times people will pass this, and they don’t even know that it’s here,” she said of the memorial. “I think now with the statue, people will take time and look at the memorial and reminisce what these men did for us.”

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