St. Peters is trying to revise a program for honoring veterans of the U.S. Armed Services and making it a little cheaper and easier for them and their families to participate.
The city’s Board of Aldermen agreed at its Aug. 23 work meeting to lessen the cost for a plaque honoring veterans to be posted in the city’s “Veterans Hall of Honor.” The approved resolution also gives the city’s Veterans Memorial Commission a larger role in managing that program.The Veterans Hall of Honor is located inside city hall at 1 St. Peters Centre Blvd. The memorial space begins at the hall’s west entrance. Small – 2 inch by 7.5 inch – plaques engraved with a veteran’s name and some information about their service are affixed to bricks or the wall.
In the past, sponsors have paid $75 for the plaques to honor retired, active, living or deceased veterans. However, St. Peters aldermen and the city’s manager of parks and golf services, Jeff Hutsler, said they think the cost could be prohibitively high. Currently, there are 36 plaques on the wall.
“We think the cost was a possible deterrent on the amount of participation that we’ve gotten,” Hutsler said. “I think it’s one of the biggest reasons for the changes.”
The plaque program was discussed by aldermen in April. Alderman Dave Thomas [Ward 1] suggested that the process of applying for a plaque be streamlined. However, at the Aug. 23 meeting, he said he wanted the process to get underway again and the board could amend the policy as needed later.
At the board meeting on Aug. 23, Hutsler presented proposed changes that include:
• the wall would be for veterans who were present and past St. Peters residents only.
• those veterans have to have an honorable discharge and active service; killed and missing in action veterans also would be considered.
• plaques would be awarded biannually before Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Another change includes the city’s 12-member Veterans Memorial Commission being in charge of reviewing and approving the applications. The volunteer group has wanted to play a larger role in reviewing plaque applicants.
A new plaque design features a dog-tag-style plate with black lettering on an aluminum or brushed aluminum plate with two lines of type and a service logo.
Plaques will be installed in the order they are received and delays in installation may occur in winter months when it’s too cold to apply the adhesive that holds them in place.
Hutsler also suggested the city pick up the expense of the plague and its installation, a cost that could be as much as $13.50 per plaque. However, aldermen and Mayor Len Pagano suggested that those seeking the plaques should cover the nominal expense.
“Am I the only one up here that thinks $10 is not very expensive,” Pagano said.
Alderwomen Terri Violet [Ward 3] and Judy Bateman [Ward 2] agreed that there should be a nominal fee and that $15 was not inappropriate.
Six aldermen approved the fee and changes as well as the separate resolution giving more authority to the Veteran’s Memorial Commission. But what was left uncertain was what would happen to the existing plaques. Violet said the old plaques may not mix well with the dog-tag plaques and two styles may pose difficulties for city staff.
Hutsler said plans may call for city staff to contact current plaque owners and notify them of the changes in the program, refund their money and offer them the option of allowing $15 taken out of the $75 for a new plaque. There is room for about a thousand plaques, he said.
Returning the old plaques to sponsors who ordered them may be difficult.
“Taking them off the wall may be difficult because they are glued, and they are not going to be in condition to be given back,” Hutsler said. “We cannot guarantee their condition.”