By Kara Lopp
Mint Hill will give up to $70,000 to the nonprofit Korean War Veterans Association so the group can finally finish more than two years of construction on the North Carolina Korean War Veterans Memorial.
Town commissioners voted on the measure Thursday, July 18, saying they hope the memorial at Mint Hill’s Park on Fairview will be complete in time for a Veteran’s Day dedication ceremony.
Organizers said they need about $52,000 to finish the project but Town Manager Brian Welch urged commissioners to allocate up to $70,000 to account for any “contingencies,” according to a memo from Welch to town commissioners. The town previously gave $43,000 for memorial construction and donated the use of park land.
Though organizers have raised about $544,000 over the past several years, “the primary reason for the current shortfall stems from some confusion between what donations … were promised and what was delivered,” Welch said in the memo. “This need is in no way attributable to any failures or lack of effort” by memorial organizers.
Welch said he was recommending the town contribute the remaining amount needed to finish the project “in a timely manner.” The money will come from the town’s tourism fund – which is supported by prepared-food and beverage taxes.
“It’s an honor to have that memorial in our town …” Mayor Ted Biggers said after the unanimous vote.
The memorial will include two statues of soldiers, a fountain representing the center element – or “taeguk” – of the Korean national flag, a walkway of granite pavers honoring service members of all wars, granite benches and four pillars honoring the 789 soldiers from North Carolina who were killed or went missing in action during the war.
The memorial also will have a marker for Billy Kim, a houseboy during the Korean War who was adopted and brought to America by a U.S. soldier. Kim eventually became a world-renowned evangelist, president of the Baptist World Alliance and a colleague of Rev. Billy Graham.
Kim’s marker will give the memorial a tie to drawing tourists from Charlotte’s Billy Graham Library, organizers said.
For more information on the memorial, visit www.koreanwarmemorialnc.com.