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HMAC critiques Veterans Salute 2014
Veterans Memorial Walk logo

The Hinesville Military Affairs Committee met Monday night for the last time this year and focused on this year’s Veterans Salute at Bryant Commons — what went right and what went wrong.

“We didn’t do as well as I thought we should have, but we did OK,” HMAC Chairman David Anderson said. “The reason we didn’t do as well as we should have was the weather, but we couldn’t do anything about that.”

He said the event raised $8,913, including $6,530 in 50/50 raffle ticket sales. Half of the ticket-sale money went to raffle winner Tracy Ray of Gum Branch.

Another $1,000 was raised from the silent auction, and $1,025 was raised from vendor-booth fees. The rest came from beer and wine sales, though some money was donated directly to the event, Anderson said.

Anderson believed HMAC would be able to give at least $5,000 toward the Veterans Memorial Walk to be built at Bryant Commons.

Ron Collins said he thought they should give every penny left over after deducting the costs for the event and suggested they wait until the next meeting to determine that amount. All agreed.

Not all related costs were readily available for Monday’s meeting, including those for serving hamburgers and hot dogs to Youth Challenge and Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets who helped set up the site and assisted with parking.

During subcommittee reports, Faye Morris described some of the silent-auction bidding as “very intense,” but recommended having a silent auction again next year. She added that some popular auction items were free meals offered by local restaurants and suggested more restaurants participate next year.

Morris and her husband, Jack, were recognized for having sold the most raffle tickets. They collected $860 for tickets sold.

Melinda Schneider read aloud vendor comments from this year’s event. Some vendors complained about the site setup, saying they were stretched over too wide an area. Others said they should not have been placed on a hilltop.

Some members said many challenges about being on the hill were exacerbated by the high winds on the day of the event. Others said the hill simply was part of the amphitheater and not something they could do anything about.

A few vendors complained the sign marking the entrance to Bryant Commons was not large enough to see from Highway 84 at 45 mph. George Holtzman, chairman of the Veterans Memorial Walk Committee, suggested that HMAC invest in some flags to better mark the entrance next year.

Holtzman reported that $97,200 has been donated toward construction of the nearly $1 million memorial. The most recent donation was $5,000 from the Liberty Independent Troop. He said the next major fundraiser event will be a classic-car show March 7 at Bryant Commons in conjunction with the Small World Festival.

Referencing a special arrangement with Fort Stewart, Holtzman said he hopes a crew of Army engineers soon will begin breaking ground at the memorial site. The land clearing and grading they do will save tens of thousands of dollars, he said.

“We haven’t lost sight of the fact that we’ve planned for a ribbon-cutting for the memorial on Veterans Day next year,” Holtzman said. “However, if we get much beyond March in getting started, I think that date will be hard to meet.”

Other business discussed included Christmas in the Park at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 1, the Christmas-tree lighting on Fort Stewart at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 4, the Christmas parade at 6 p.m. Dec. 5, and the Pearl Harbor Day ceremony from 10 a.m.-noon Dec. 6 at American Legion Post 168.

There also will be a special tree-burning ceremony at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 12 on Fort Stewart’s Cottrell Field. Some of the original eastern redbud trees that were replaced this year by crape myrtles will be ceremonially burned and the ashes collected for family members of the 468 soldiers honored at Warriors Walk.

Beginning at noon the following day, the annual Wreaths for Warriors Walk ceremony will take place on Cottrell Field. A Christmas wreath will be laid at the foot of each tree.

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