Veterans Building to be dedicated July 17

Angie Talken
Chillicothe News

After years of planning and fundraising, the Livingston County Veterans Association's (LICOVA) new Veterans Building is complete and will be dedicated during a ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house starting at 12 p.m., July 17. 

The building, designed by Claire Ashbrook, a Chillicothe native who now lives and works in Kansas City as an architect, has many unique features including a bar with service coins placed into the wood and a brick feature that represents the service of veterans. 

The new Livingston County Veterans Association Building located on Washington Street, next to the children's library,

"The concept behind the dark, monotone structure emphasizes the significance of the rebuilding, serving as a memorial to men and women of Livingston County who served our nation," Ashbrook said. "A decorative brick pattern was installed at the corners of the building. the pattern of the brick conceptualizes the soldiers in a parade formation with the bricks fanning out from the straight parade lines representing those soldiers that have been lost. Although a simple gesture, it is impactful to the facade."

Masonry work was done by Dale Gerhart of Gerhart Brick Laying out of Meadville. 

"Located at the front of the building are replica steel hedgehogs that soldiers would have seen on the beach of Normandy and throughout World War II," Ashbrook said. "These sculptural pieces draw the eye to the building and are a reminder of the sacrifices made by the men and women of the United States Armed Services."

The building also features four by six American Flagin the entrance with service emblems on display, a shared office for the American Legion and VFW auxiliaries, a stage area, VFW and American Legion offices, large storage room,  a fully equipped kitchen featuring two ovens and stoves, large freezer, roll-top service area and ample countertop space. The private lounge features its own entrance and room for 40 members. 

George Laprade, secretary of LICOVA said he had the idea for laying coins in the wood finish of the top of the bar came from the bar at the Elks Club.  Coins featured in the bar at the Veteran's Building include Operation Bright Star, Egypt; Camp Perry, Germany; Vietnam, Task Force Kosovo, Korea, and more.

"These coins signify a lot of the wars that members have been in,"  Laprade said. "WE have tried to present all wars served in and victory coins."

Construction of the building was completed ahead of schedule by Copeland Construction. "We give great kudos to them and all of the hard work they did for us," Laprade said. 

Laprade said after the July 17 open house the building and or the kitchen is available for groups to rent out when veterans events were not being hosted.

LICOVA membership is open to any Livingston County veteran who is a member of either the VFW or American Legion. Both organizations pay rent to LICOVA.

The need for a veteran building has been evident for several years, following the loss of the former VFW building on Second Street to fire and the deterioration of the American Legion Building. 

"We wanted all of the Livingston County veterans to belong somewhere, to have someplace to go," Laprade said.

Fundraising is ongoing, donations can be made by contacting any board member. board members include Edwin Allender, president; Joe Carter, vice president; Larry Warren, treasurer; Laprade, secretary and members Matt Harper, Larry "Bud" Hinnen, Benny Simpson and Jim Summerville. 

The building can be accessed off of Washington Street, Locust or the alley off of Calhoun. 

The open house is ongoing from 12 - 5 p.m., with comments and a ribbon-cutting held at 12 p.m. A meal will be cooked by the Elks Club.