MEDINA — Rick Pethtel thought about walking away from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial renovation project several times in the last 14 months.
His wife, Cathy, reminded him each time that he was a Marine and giving up just isn’t in his vocabulary.
Now, the final touches are being done at the memorial, located next to the Medina County Veterans Service Office, 210 Northland Drive.
Pethtel, president of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Medina Chapter 385, is planning a large ceremony on May 27 after the city’s Memorial Day parade.
“That’s my last hurrah,” he said Tuesday at the Medina County commissioners meeting.
The 70-year-old said after the ceremony, the chapter will turn over the memorial to the county.
“It’s too hard to keep up with the maintenance,” he said. “It will still be ours, so to speak.”
Tears came to his eyes when he spoke of seeing veterans sitting on the benches around the memorial in solitude.
“They go there and let their feelings out,” Pethtel said.
Thirty-three Medina County service members who lost their lives in Vietnam.
He said veterans from all the armed forces and from conflicts in Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan and Iraq, among others, are welcome at the memorial.
The memorial was built in 1989.
That wasn’t touched in the renovation. New paver bricks were installed, along with walls and landscaping by Morton Landscape Development Co. of Columbia Station.
The project cost about $90,000.
Pethtel was successful in securing a state grant worth $60,000, but little did he know that his organization had to raise $30,000 on its own in order to qualify for it.
It was able to raise the needed funds, but there were some disagreements within the ranks about what should be included in the project.
He emerged from those meetings unscathed with the backing of the commissioners.
“They’ve had my back through this whole process,” Pethtel said.
Commissioner Pat Geissman commended him for his work.
“You’ve done a fantastic job,” she said.
Commissioner Bill Hutson told Pethtel he was glad he stuck with the project.
“Thanks for the support,” Pethtel said.
“It’s an experience I’ll never do again.”
Chapter 385’s pancake breakfast and groundbreaking ceremony March 30 drew 250 people.
“Ed Zackery (director of veterans’ services) went above and beyond that day,” Pethtel said.
He said any money left over in the fund will go toward maintenance at the memorial.
In other news
- County Administrator Scott Miller and Hutson met with city of Medina officials to discuss the Medina County courthouse. The project is about to enter its design phase. Hutson said there will be a series of meetings set up with historical societies in the county to solicit their opinions on the courthouse.
- Commissioners commended the 2019 outstanding seniors for the Medina County Share Cluster, which has been enhancing the lives of Medina County youth since 1988 through collaborative efforts designed to promote nonviolent, drug-free living.
The honorees are:
- Morgan Young, Black River;
- Mitchell Young, Black River;
- Amanda Pizon, Brunswick;
- Tyler Benson, Brunswick;
- Samuel Oliver, Buckeye;
- Morgan Palcisko, Buckeye;
- Paityn Slansky, Cloverleaf;
- Kyra Combs, Cloverleaf;
- Nathan Gillin, Highland;
- Makayla Grecenuk, Highland;
- Cory Starman, Medina County Career Center;
- Irina Nagirnyak, Medina County Career Center;
- Emily Gacek, Medina;
- Claire Leupp, Medina;
- Anthony Batey, Wadsworth;
- Charlotte Lewis, Wadsworth.