BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — Brea Wise hasn’t met Leroy Ryerson, but as she drove through Whitehouse and saw a banner for the Navy veteran and others who have served or currently serve in the military, she thought about all of the veterans in Waterville.
“I wanted a way for Waterville to start moving forward – a way to set aside our differences and focus on something we can all agree on,” Wise said. “After passing through towns where (banners) hang, I felt a sense of pride, respect and community, and hope to bring that same feel to Waterville.”
She met with Waterville City Council member Anthony Bruno, who secured funding through the Parks and Recreation Department. This week, the pair launched a Hometown Heroes banner project to give Waterville residents or natives an opportunity to be recognized throughout the city, as banners will be hung on light pole brackets on the bridge and throughout town.
While each 24-by-48-inch banner is $104.95, the city has pledged to cover the cost. However, a suggested donation of $25.00 will go into the fund to expand the program over the next few years, Bruno said.
Those interested in participating should submit a photo along with the name of the veteran or active-duty military person, along with dates served and branch of the military. That information can be dropped off at the Waterville Municipal Building, 25 N. Second St., between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. weekdays. Questions may also be answered at (419) 878-8100.
“The goal is to receive enough in the next few weeks to place an order and get the banners back in time to hang between Independence Day and Veterans Day,” Wise said. “Then, we’ll continue to expand this each year.”
Wise is likely to be the first in line to order a banner, as her partner Marcus Hefflinger joined the Marines after his graduation from Anthony Wayne High School. During his four years with the Marines, Hefflinger served on two tours of Iraq.