Resident wants to honor vets

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RUMFORD – At least 31 soldiers and sailors from Rumford who died in World War II are buried overseas.

Len Greaney believes these servicemen should be honored with granite gravestones on the veterans green.

“This would give loved ones a place to go when they can’t go to Italy or Normandy,” he told selectmen Thursday.

He appeared before the board to ask the town to contribute $2,500 toward the project during the 2006-2007 budget year.

He estimated the cost for each stone at $135. All money needed beyond the $2,500 would come from fundraisers Greaney is planning to organize, he said. He said the stones would provide birth and death dates, rank and branch of service, and where the person’s remains are buried

According to a listing he provided selectmen Thursday, WWII Rumford veterans buried overseas are in the Netherlands, France, the Philippines, England, Hawaii, Belgium and Italy.

Greaney has been researching local veterans, veterans’ graves and memorials for several years. He said he has also discovered that at least 13 other veterans from River Valley towns are buried overseas. They are from Mexico, Dixfield, Peru and Roxbury.

Board Chairman Jim Thibodeau said the town can’t commit to the donation for the project now and suggested that Greaney bring his proposal to the board during next year’s budget development process.

“It’s a wonderful gesture, but premature,” said Thibodeau.

In a related matter, Greaney requested a town appropriation of $3,200 for the purchase of 100 bronze markers and 1,400 American flags to decorate veterans’ graves for Memorial Day.

The town had appropriated cemetery funding, but according to Greaney, the money was funneled through the various cemetery associations and the money was not necessarily used to decorate veterans’ graves with markers and flags.

He said funding is needed before April 30 to assure delivery in time for Memorial Day.

Selectmen agreed to put the request on the April 20 meeting agenda.

In other matters, the board established an ad hoc Agricultural Commission to work with the Threshold of Maine to look into how to develop the agricultural resources in the region, including alternative fuel sources that can be grown, farmers’ markets expansion and alternative agricultural uses.

The town received a $10,000 sustainable communities grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture last month.

Town Manager Steve Eldridge said Friday that seven members of the agricultural community will sit on the committee. He, River Valley Growth Council Director Rosie Bradley, and Threshold of Maine’s Mark Hews will also work with the group.

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