Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
Ephrata makes push for statue of Winters
BY LARRY ALEXANDER, Staff Writer
The committee is formed and moving forward.
That was how Ephrata Mayor Ralph Mowen put it April 22 as he and nine volunteers gathered in borough hall to start the process that they hope will end with a statue of World War II hero Major Richard Winters being erected in his hometown.
Winters, who lived in Ephrata, was the main character in the best-selling "Band of Brothers" book and Emmy-winning TV miniseries.
Sculptor Stephen Spears of Alabama, who created the Major Richard D. Winters Leadership Memorial unveiled last June in Normandy, France, has offered to make a duplicate to stand in Ephrata. The cost would be $90,000.
Mowen said, "I've had enough people who've asked me to try and come up with a plan to get the statue here in Ephrata."
He reminded the group that Spears gave Ephrata right of first refusal, and that Derry Township and the town of Hershey are waiting in the wings if Ephrata fails to act.
One of the main hurdles is raising the $90,000 or, at least, the first $30,000. That amount, according to a three-phase production outline from Spears, will start the molding process.
Ideas floated by the committee included soliciting local organizations, especially veterans groups, selling bricks on a commemorative walkway, selling memorial benches and raffles.
Mowen said some local philanthropic trusts might contribute funds.
"We need to come up with the first $30,000 to show our commitment," community volunteer Scott Shelley said. "That's where we need to start."
On April 23, the Ephrata Economic Development Corp. voted to contribute $5,000 toward the statue, upon approval of the project by council.
"It's a good project," EEDC Chairman William Hecker said. "It's an economic development project, and it will bring people to the borough."
Shelley, head coach of the Ephrata High School football team, has agreed to co-chair the committee with Rebecca Gallagher, owner of the historic Smithton Inn.
Gallagher and Ephrata police Officer Brian Dell Isola said people all over the country have an interest in this.
Dell Isola said, "So I don't see the money as a problem. The problem will be getting going, getting the interest, getting it approved by the council. It's a matter of us saying yes, we want this, we can do this, we want to do it here. Once that's done, I think the rest will be easy."
Two locations for the statue were suggested on East Fulton Street. One is the green space next to Winters' boyhood home, and the second is adjacent to the walking trail. Both are locations Winters recalled from his youth.
Mowen urged people to attend the 4:30 p.m. May 20 meeting of council's community service committee.
"I haven't gotten any pushback from council," Mowen said. "I think we just need to come up with a viable plan and have a group of individuals who are committed to work."
The committee will kick off its community fund drive on June 6, the anniversary of D-Day during World War II.
Shelley said the strong character and leadership skills Winters displayed are a source of inspiration for all. Aquiring the statue, he feels, will benefit his young players.
"Every year, during pre-season, I want to take my team to that statue and tell them the story of Dick Winters," he said.
Anyone interested in serving on the committee can contact Shelley at firstname.lastname@example.org or Gallagher at rgallagher@SmithtonInn.com.
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