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Students from the Columbia Heights High School will make drawings to represent each of the words that then will be sandblasted into the sides of the stone.
Jesse Davies, the city’s public works administrative assistant, is coordinating the work between students and the tower’s manufacturer, American Artstone Co. of New Ulm, Minn. He said these projects have been a way to rejuvenate the city.
“The housing is getting older, the infrastructure is getting older,” Davies said. “When we can do things like this, it can help the community get some fresh air.”
In a city founded by German, Polish and Scandinavian immigrants, Peterson said he wants to make sure new immigrants still feel welcome.
Nadeau said the police and the city as a whole have taken steps to get people of different backgrounds together — efforts such as holding an interfaith dialogue between members of a local mosque and a Christian church.
In larger cities, the project might be considered modest, but for a town of less than 20,000, it’s symbolic — and important — to the residents.
“That ‘welcoming community,’ it does get beyond the rhetoric and the sound bites,” Nadeau said. “It’s something people legitimately value.”
In mid-February, the city also held a Friday-night fish fry to raise funds at Murzyn Hall, the city’s local event center.
Peterson said the event was a success and helped the city get closer to its fundraising goal.
Earlier that week, former City Council member and city resident Kenneth Hentges told Peterson that he would donate $10,000 to the project. In recognition of that gift, the city will name the planned garden across the street from the roundabout Hentges Legacy Garden, in honor of his late wife.
With Hentges’ donation, Peterson said, the city is about halfway to its $40,000 mark and is hopeful it can reach its goal.
“It makes a big leap to getting to our goal,” the mayor said.
The city also will hold a pancake breakfast fundraiser in April. The mayor said the events don’t completely solve the financial issue, but they’re beneficial and are another way to get community members working together.
“Every little bit helps,” he said.
Nadeau said the efforts of his officers to get into the community, the monuments and the public’s positive reaction are all tied together in the city’s character.
“I see all this as interconnected,” he said.
Kevin Burbach is a University of Minnesota journalism student on assignment for the Star Tribune.