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Community members, leaders, business owners and veterans turn out for newly expanded plaza in McCormick Park

PHOTO COURTESY OF NICOLE THILL-PACHECO - Scappoose Democratic Sen. Betsy Johnson, VFW Post 1440's Gene Hester and St. Helens City Councilor Doug Morten jointly direct ceremonial scissors and cut the ribbon to open the newly expanded Veterans Memorial at McCormick Park in St. Helens on Friday, Nov. 1. All pictured, from left: Jenny Dimsho, St. Helens associate planner; Johnson; Andrew Niemi, Lower Columbia Engineering; Hester; Moten; Brandon Sundeen (behind Morten) of Columbia County Museum Association; and Sue Nelson, St. Helens engineering director.

Dozens of people turned out Friday, Nov. 1, to observe and participate in the dedication ceremony for the recently expanded Veterans Memorial Plaza at McCormick Park in St. Helens.

The ceremony was intended to celebrate the partnerships between the city of St. Helens, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1440, local businesses and members of the community who made expansion of the Veterans Memorial Plaza possible.

This Monday, Nov. 11, the plaza will also serve as the venue for the city's Veterans Day ceremony starting at 11 a.m. VFW Post 1440 members will lead the ceremony.

The plaza at McCormick Park was first dedicated at a Veterans Day ceremony in 2010 after the original 1958 St. Helens Veterans Memorial, which included wooden plaques and a 105-mm Howitzer Cannon and was located along Highway 30, was relocated due to a highway widening project. The plaza served as a tribute to veterans who were killed in World War I, World War II and the Korean War, a press release from the city states.

In April 2017, the city of St. Helens was awarded $46,770 from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Veterans & War Memorials Grant Program to support expansion of the Veterans Memorial in McCormick Park. VFW Post 1440 also contributed more than $48,000 toward the project, allowing for the addition of memorial plaques to honor veterans who have lost their lives in more recent conflicts, the release states.

Other assistance and contributions were provided by Lower Columbia Engineering, CalPortalnd, Scappoose Sand and Gravel, Pacific Stainless, Sen. Betsy Johnson and Brandon Sundeen of the Columbia County Museum Association.

PHOTO COURTESY OF NICOLE THILL-PACHECO - Gene Hester of VFW Post 1440 speaks at the Veterans Memorial Plaza expansion dedication ceremony in St. Helens' McCormick Park on Friday, Nov. 11. The expansion project increased the footprint of the existing memorial, providing more space for ceremonies and other VFW events; added a new covered area to allow for additional seating for disabled veterans during inclement weather; saw the recreation of monuments with the addition of new names of veterans who served in World War I, World War II and the Korean War; and included new monuments to the men and women who served in the Vietnam War and conflicts in the Middle East.

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