Medallions get OK for vets memorial

Staff photo by E.J. Harris The Pendleton City Council approved the purchase of five bronze medallions for a memorial sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Let'Er Buck Post 922.

Pendleton is one step closer to getting an official veterans memorial.

The Pendleton City Council approved the $3,310 purchase of five bronze medallions for a memorial sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Let’Er Buck Post 922.

Charles Denight, chairman of the arts commission, explained that the VFW had already done much of the legwork on the proposed memorial at the old fountain space near the intersection of Highway 11 and Southeast Court Avenue.

The 16-inch medallions, one for each branch of the military, will be mounted on basalt columns that have already been purchased by the VFW. Denight said the VFW has also worked with the Pendleton Parks and Recreation Department to clean the site and prepare it for the memorial.

Although the columns and medallions will be installed soon, the project is far from over.

Denight said the columns will be installed in a circular formation in anticipation of placing a centerpiece of art to complete the memorial.

He said the VFW is still developing a concept or theme for the art, but Denight said the organization wants to keep it intentionally open-ended to give artists leeway in their interpretations when it sends out a request for proposal.

The cost of the medallions comes from the city’s art fund, which is funded by an earmark from the transient room tax.

Also closer to reality is a new fixed-route service from Pendleton’s transportation program.

The council approved two Oregon Department of Transportation grants that will help establish the new service and pay for a new 22-passenger bus.

Finance Director Linda Carter said Pendleton already has several curb-to-curb transportation programs.

But as the program’s popularity continues to rise, Carter said the city wants to direct more riders to its new deviated fixed-route service, which will run on a fixed route across town while allowing for slight deviations if someone with a disability needs transportation.

Carter said the city is still finalizing routes and stops, but a recent rough draft showed stops across the city, including St. Anthony Hospital, Community Park, Grecian Heights Park, Walmart, Roy Raley Park, Main Street, Blue Mountain Community College, Pendleton High School and Riverside Drive.

The city is planning a $1 fare, but Carter said she is going to apply for money from the Oregon Special Transportation Fund that could help turn it into a free program.

The ODOT transportation operations grant is for $144,000 and requires a $36,000 match from the city over two years, while the bus grant is $76,500 with a $13,500 match.

The transportation program will continue to be operated by Elite Taxi, which received a $638,925 contract from the city at the same meeting.

Before the council meeting, the council met as the Pendleton Development Commission and passed a $2.2 million budget for the urban renewal district.

The 2018-2019 budget is almost $1 million more than the previous fiscal year and includes large increases for programs like Fresh Start, second story access, and façade restoration.

——— Contact Antonio Sierra at asierra@eastoregonian.com or 541-966-0836.

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