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Enduring monument to be set backTell North Platte what you think
 
Photo by George Lauby
Lincoln County's WWI monument and flags must be moved this year in preparation for the rebuilding of U.S. Highway 83 next summer.
Photo by George Lauby
(click on images to enlarge)
Photo by George Lauby

On Monday, the Lincoln County commissioners discussed a short move for the heavy patriotic monument and flags that fly above it at Fourth and Jeffers.

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Jeffers St./U.S. Highway 83 will be rebuilt next summer from First to Sixth streets. In the process, the Fourth St. intersection will be widened slightly and the monument must be moved.

The Nebraska Department of Roads, which is coordinating the street repairs, offered the county $26,225 for the job.

The NDOR’s right-of-way agent Tom Weber told the commissioners he is confident that amount would cover the costs of moving the 8-ton granite monument and nearby flagpoles.

Commissioner Duane Deterding noted that a monument that heavy will require sound footings. He asked to see some blueprints.

Weber said the project layout will be sent to the county board.

Weber said construction bids will be let this year on Sept. 4.

In North Platte, the NDOR District 6 Engineer Gary Thayer said he wouldn’t be surprised if contractors want to start work in the spring.

Thayer said the monument and flags will move about 12 feet toward the center of the block, according to preliminary plans that have been approved by the state historical society.

Thayer said the county could make a counter offer.

Widening the intersection slightly will make it better for vehicles and people, he said.

“Trucks (as they turn) sometimes roll up on the curb and sidewalk,” Thayer said. “We are also making the sidewalks handicapped accessible, so it’s deemed best to move the monument back from the roadway.”

 

Fighting force

The monument is a tribute to those who served in the 89th Division of the 355th Infantry of World War I from 1917-19, which fought bloody battles across France and Germany.

The unit was organized Aug. 27, 1917 at Camp Funston, Kan., with enlisted men from Nebraska, junior officers generally from Kansas, Missouri and Colorado, and senior officers from the regular army, according to the free online encyclopedia, Wikipedia. The soldiers drilled ceaselessly over eight months despite a lack of adequate equipment, dreadful living conditions, and outbreaks of disease in the camps. Less than a year after the regiment was formed, the men were fighting on the front in France.

The First Battalion of the regiment was the first unit of the division to occupy the active front and on the night of Aug. 7-8, 1918 was subjected to a severe gas shell bombardment.

The regiment fought on, overcoming adversities, until the German forces were defeated and the war ended on Nov. 11, 1918.

The regiment was demobilized June 1-3, 1919.

“May the indomitable spirit of these men live forever,” the monument says.

The monument was dedicated at a reunion of the regiment on Sept. 14, 1947.

The Fourth and Jeffers intersection was the main intersection of North Platte until Interstate-80 was constructed in the late 1960s, and it is still a busy corner.

 


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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 7/23/2014
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