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Patronicity campaigns to help refurbish vets memorial, Carp River Kiln

Westwood High School junior Nick Mattson, a member of Scout Troop 321, describes elements of his Eagle Scout project to rehabilitate the Negaunee Veterans Memorial in front of city hall. Phase 1 of the project, which will be funded by a successful Patronicity crowd-funding campaign, a Michigan Economic Development Corp. match, and a Central Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Prosperous Places mini-grant, is expected to be completed in time for the Pioneer Days celebration in July. (Journal photo by Lisa Bowers)

NEGAUNEE — The fundraising is done, and now Westwood High School junior Nick Mattson is ready to get to the important work of honoring Negaunee’s fallen veterans.

Using a Patronicity website that’s supported by the Michigan Economic Development Corp., Mattson raised money for phase 1 of a two-part project to rehabilitate the Negaunee Veterans Memorial located directly in front of city hall.

The campaign raised $17,635, $12,000 of which will be matched by the MEDC for a total of nearly $30,000 for the project.

Mattson, who is a member of Scout Troop 321, said the campaign was touch and go at first, but when it really mattered donors stepped up.

“There were times when we didn’t move from a certain amount for days, and then it just blew up and got us to our funding,” Mattson said.

The project includes replacing the name tags of fallen residents on the memorial, cleaning up the woodwork and flower beds in front of the memorial, and placing seals for each branch of the military on the back of the memorial. Mattson hopes to have the work completed in time for Negaunee’s Pioneer Days in July.

The second phase of the project will include new landscaping, benches and a lighted flagpole with patio space.

Mattson said anyone wishing to volunteer should contact the Negaunee Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3165 by phone at 906-475-9183 or check the VFW Post 3165 Facebook page for volunteer events.

The project is one of several funded in part by a $5,000 mini-grant from Central Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Prosperous Places program.

A second project funded both by the Patronicity website and a CUPPAD Prosperous Places mini-grant is the Carp River Kiln restoration project along the Iron Ore Heritage Trail. The Iron Ore Heritage Recreation Authority plans to restore the abandoned, vacant lot and develop it into a gateway plaza along the IOHT. The historic beehive-shaped kiln was the last surviving out of 43 sandstone kilns once used to burn wood for charcoal to feed the Carp River Furnace owned by entrepreneur John Burt. The kiln collapsed in 2016.

The Patronicity campaign has met its goal of $25,000 with 10 days left to fundraise. The MEDC will provide a $25,000 match for the funds for a total of $50,000 to complete the project.

According to a CUPPAD press release, the funds will be used to develop the site, fill in the slumped area to trail level, restore the kiln using original stones, develop accessible walkways to the kiln from the IOHT, add a metal grate door to the kiln as well as interpretive signs, benches, bike racks, pavers and public art.

Other local projects funded by CUPPAD Prosperous Places mini-grants include the Hematite Art Park across Division Street from the Ishpeming High-Middle School campus. Funds provided were used to erect fences and benches, along with a display for art pieces from local students. The art park doubled in size this year following the demolition of an adjacent blighted building. Students will help to construct more art panels, a walkway, landscaping features and large hematite rocks for the second phase of the project.

Other Prosperous Places grant projects include: the Noquemanon Trail Network Welcome Project, which features redesigned kiosks to unify messaging and storytelling across the trail network, and a native pollinator garden on the southern hillside of the D.J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans in Marquette featuring a functioning edible plant garden on an Americans with Disabilities Act-accessible pathway.

CUPPAD Community Planner Ryan Soucy said the Prosperous Places funding allows Upper Peninsula communities to leverage their strengths.

“U.P. communities have so many unique and authentic assets to draw from to help themselves stand out and improve their visual appeal,” Soucy said. “It’s really inspiring to see some of the things past award winners have accomplished since the program first started four years ago. These projects contribute so much to our region’s marketability while engaging all sorts of people in the development of the places where we live and spend time.”

Lisa Bowers can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is lbowers@miningjournal.net.