In small towns, it can be a challenge to find enough people and/or funding to get things done. This is an ongoing challenge regarding the Canton Veterans Memorial, but Nick Prestby is spearheading the efforts. And, he expects 2018 to be the year when things really take shape. He said, “My projection is to try to get it all done before the big five-year celebration in 2019.”
Nick approached the Canton City Council back in December 2016, asking their thoughts about moving forward with plans to build a veterans memorial. He explained that the memorial stone was previously displayed in front of city hall, but he had asked the city council for permission to move it to a new location, in front of the gazebo on Main Street. Besides offering better visibility, Nick said regarding this location, “This is city property, so it’s kind of under city control. I got the authorization to put the flagpoles in and get the monument moved. The American Legion paid for the flagpoles and flags, and we also paid to get the monument moved.” He added that he’s been pleased that the city council members have been enthusiastic about the project. There are seven flags at the site: an American flag, and flags honoring the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marine.
Regarding the plans for what is yet to come for the memorial, Nick said, “My idea is to put pavers in the center, and we’ve got some money that we can put some landscaping in, and I think the city’s going to put a new gazebo in.” Nick said the Legion and city council have not yet decided specific details, such as what the memorial pavers would look like, or what they would cost for someone who wants to honor a loved one. He said eventually, he’d also like to put in some type of armament, such as a large artillery gun, but he said there is a lot of paperwork involved in doing something like that.
Nick said he doesn’t know exactly how many local veterans there are, but, “I know at the cemetery just north of town, we put 27 wreaths… and there are two more cemeteries… so I really don’t know, but there’s a lot… and we want to have something to honor the fallen ones.”
Funding is a major issue, and Nick said there may be a fundraiser event to help raise money for the memorial, but that hasn’t been decided yet. He pointed out that the Legion has other fundraising too. “We’ve got pulltabs, and that does a pretty good job of making money for us. We also have a pancake and sausage breakfast in the spring. We cook up about 150 pounds of pork sausage. We hand-patty it ourselves. It’s a pretty big thing,” shared Nick.
Nick also pointed out that just across the street from the memorial site is Canton’s old railroad depot, which he believes is the only depot in the area that’s still in its original spot. He added, “Leroy and Cathy Haines, they’ve got that antique store right there, and they’ve kind of been the ramrods for the depot. They do a dang good job of getting funding, and they’ve got the 501c status… They got the floors redone on it, and they got paint on the exterior, and they’re getting windows in it.”
Nick adds that he would like to get more people involved in the veterans memorial, and the Legion. Currently, there are only about 15 active members in the local Legion, he says. He encourages anyone interested to contact him or city hall. Nick was born and raised in Canton, but was gone for many years, including 28 years in Atlanta. He said moving back has been a great decision, because, “This is like heaven to me, being back here…I live in my parents’ house, where I grew up…I just love it here!”