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Cornelius News

Due north: 9-11 monument will point to NYC

CPD Chief Bence Hoyle, Fire Chief Neal Smith

Nov. 5. By Dave Yochum. The Town of Cornelius is launching a national design competition for a 9-11 monument that will be built in front of Fire Station No. 1 on South Main Street.

The centerpiece of the monument will be an eight-foot long girder that was pulled from the wreckage of the Twin Towers and stored in Hanger 17 at John F. Kennedy International Airport until earlier this year.

It will point north, toward New York City.

Cornelius’ monument will be unveiled at a ceremony on Sept. 11, 2016, according to Mayor Chuck Travis. At a press conference today, he said the competition will be open to designers from across the nation. The competition opens Nov. 10; designers can visit cornelius.org/parc/publicart for more information.

“We want to honor and memorialize first responders, as well as those who lost their lives that day,” the mayor said, explaining that it will also be a tribute to those in our community who were personally affected by the tragedy.

People from all across Cornelius are part of the project committee, including PARC Director Troy Fitzsimmons, Commissioner Jim Duke, Fire Chief Neal Smith, Public Works Director Ricky Overcash, Planning Board Chair Karen Tovar and Arts Center Director Jen Crickenberger.

Mayor Pro Tem Woody Washam said there is a special World Trade Center Monument Fund to receive charitable donations for this project. Donations can be made online at www.cornelius.org  (Eight links down on the left side)

The final design of the World Trade Center Monument will have opportunities for individual and corporate sponsors to be recognized for their contributions.

Chief Smith said the girder itself shows signs of having withstood monumental forces. “We are looking for a design that is respectful, meaningful and educational,” Smith said.

The monument will be highly visible from passersby, and will include the American flag.

Smith said it looks like the Cornelius Fire Department will have about $20,000 raised within a couple of months toward the $100,000 cost of the monument.

To make the Sept. 11 deadline next year, the town will put up the funds required to get the project under way. Fundraising efforts will be needed to pay the town back.

The town, in partnership with the Fire Department and the Police Department, will be selling Christmas trees at the corner of Catawba Avenue and Main Street (Hwy. 115) to raise money. The town has about $4,000 in public arts funding to go toward the monument’s cost.

A handful of retired New York firefighters live in Cornelius, including 9-11 project committee members Peter Blaich and Harry Saake.

Retired FDNY firefighter James Butler says the monument is a good thing for Cornelius. “Its important to do this because it will help remind those who didn’t live in the New York area about the terrible conditions we faced on 9-11. I’ve found that unless you lived in New York at the time, the enormous impact of the event is less understood. This should help people remember 9-11,” Butler says.

The Cornelius resident was assigned to Ladder 158 in Queens on that fateful day in 2001. He and his company spent days on duty at Ground Zero.