Board breathing new life into Vet’s Pool project

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The Appalachian Veterans Memorial and Community Center (AVM) board is moving forward with bold plans for the former swimming pool on Brenner Rd.

The group met recently and elected Bill Shepherd of Carrollton president.

“This is the year to move forward with those plans,” said Shepherd.

Those plans are to establish a military veterans memorial along one side of the building as a tribute to the World War II veterans who created it in 1972 and the many other Carroll County patriots who served their country.

He said the military displays will provide a unique backdrop for the community center that will occupy most of the space in the 12,840-square-foot structure. The new state-of-the-art facility will be laid out to accommodate business meetings, conventions, wedding receptions, anniversaries, reunions and other community gatherings.

Established under the auspices of Carroll County Veteran’s Club Memorial Fund Inc., OAVM is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The board of directors intends to get the building under a new roof this coming spring in order to protect its sound structural integrity.

Perry Fenton of Mechanicstown was re-elected as treasurer of the board of directors and Wes Day of Carrollton was elected vice president. The current two-year terms of Dave Lange of Malvern, board secretary; and Jeff Fulks of Mechanicstown, liaison, run through 2016.

With the exception of his 14 years of service in the U.S. Army, Shepherd has been a lifelong resident of Carroll County.

“I’m totally committed to this project,” Shepherd said of establishing the veterans memorial and community center. “I want to open people’s eyes regarding those who sacrificed their lives for our country and to how many people from Carroll County served and what they went through.”

Shepherd and Fenton were key organizers of the Veterans Memorial Fireworks celebration held July 4, 2015, at the Carroll County Fairgrounds. Planning is underway for that event to return to the fairgrounds over the coming July 2-3 weekend.

“The fireworks and entertainment extravaganza is another way in which the community comes together in recognition of its patriotic heritage,” said Shepherd.

Fenton, who has lived in the county since 1972 and is a Carrollton High School graduate, remembers learning to swim in the former indoor swimming pool on Brenner Road. “I have memories in that building, and I want to save it,” he said. “My dad was a veteran, my grandpa was a veteran, my uncle was a veteran, and my cousins are veterans.”

Fenton said he believes reconfiguration of the building will help create jobs in the county. “We want to make this work for our county and make it into a community center so that everybody can enjoy it,” he said.

Fulks, a computer drafting student at Kent State University, became involved in OAVM as a way to apply his design skills to an actual building project. “My family’s involved in this,” he said. “It a good thing. We can’t let that building go to waste.”

Day, a Carroll County native who joined the military just before his senior year at Carrollton High School, where he graduated in 2010, deployed to Afghanistan in 2013 with the National Guard.

“I’d like to see veterans get more recognition, and I think this veterans memorial is a way to achieve that,” Day said. “The veterans are the reason why we’re here today.”

Lange, who served with the U.S. Navy’s riverine forces in Vietnam in 1969 and ‘70 and then deployed with a helicopter anti-submarine squadron aboard aircraft carriers to Europe and the Middle East, has lived in the county for the past seven years.

“My dad was a decorated World War II veteran, which makes me feel a special obligation to those vets who built that club and the former pool in Carroll County,” Lange said. “We can’t let them down. I really believe this building can have a new life and that it can benefit the entire community. We need to bring the community together to invest in this project.”

Additional tax-deductible donations are needed for the project. Checks can be mailed to: Carroll County Veterans Memorial, 2044 Brenner Road NE, Carrollton, OH 44615.