From the PNJ
The volunteer group that raised funds for Pensacola’s new Marine Aviation Memorial Tower says it has a $32,000 budget shortfall on the project because of pledges on which Pensacola companies reneged.
“I can take care of it, even if I have to take out a personal loan,” said Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer Vernadel Green, who is assistant commander of Honor Our Marines Inc., based in Jacksonville, N.C.
The group, largely Marine veterans, raised more than $250,000 last year to pay for the 30-foot steel clock tower, the tallest monument at Veterans Memorial Park. Dedicated in August, it features a 250-pound bronze bell and recorded music from a carillon.
The funding deficit leaves a bill outstanding at Terhaar & Cronley, the Pensacola general contracting firm that built the concrete plaza that surrounds the tower.
The $88,000 plaza would have cost considerably more, the tower’s supporters said, if the company hadn’t done the work at a discount, agreeing to be paid essentially the equivalent of its costs.
Jim Cronley, a partner in the contracting firm, said Tuesday that one of his employees spoke with a leader of the Honor Our Marines group in early February about the unpaid balance of $32,420 for the plaza construction.
“They told him they would raise the money if you give us some time,” Cronley said. “To this point we think they have their hearts in the right place. The say they’ll pay us, and we think we’ll get paid.”
Cronley, an Army veteran who served in Vietnam, has a two-decade tradition of helping build monuments at the park on a no-profit basis and being flexible about being paid.
“It’s a place that’s important to me,” he said.
Although the Honor Our Marines website indicates that more than $360,000 has been raised for the tower monument, Green said that figure includes pledges of money that hasn’t actually been donated.
Green declined to name the sources of three major pledges that haven’t materialized. But he said those promises were in the amounts of $15,000, $7,000 and $5,000.
“They’re not going to pay,” he said. “They’ve reneged.”
Nevertheless, Green said he’s grateful for the considerable financial support from Northwest Florida and out of state that paid for the tower, built by Verdin Co. in Cincinnati.
“I will not call out anybody because Pensacola as a whole, and this whole area, has been amazing in supporting this,” he said.
According to the Honor Our Marines website, the major donors for the tower include defense contractor ATK, Federal Express and Pen Air Federal Credit Union.
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