(Posted June 20, 2014)
By John Crutchfield, Staff Writer
The treasures of history are all too easily lost to various misadventures—a town hall fire, a basement flood, an overzealous custodian. But, once in a while, what was lost is found.
One such lost historical treasure has resurfaced in Mount Sterling, and a lot of people are excited about it.
After the closing of Mount Sterling Elementary School in 2011, the late Denny Morris, director of the Mount Sterling Community Museum at the time, was salvaging artifacts from the school and discovered an old bronze plaque in the back of a closet. Since then, the plaque has been part of the museum’s collection.
The plaque bears the names of Mount Sterling High School graduates who served in World War I. It was a gift from the Class of 1928 and was displayed at the school until the 1980s. Many of the men listed went on to become community leaders and successful businessmen. Many of the family names are still common in town today.
Fast forward to this spring when David Timmons, a member of Mount Sterling village council, visited the museum, saw the plaque and got to talking about it with current museum director Steve Chambers and Mount Sterling Library Director Chris Siscoe. All three agreed it deserves to be displayed out in public again.
“It’s such a great piece of Mount Sterling history,” Siscoe said.
Siscoe shared the idea with Mayor Charlie Neff. Then council member Heather Rice got involved. Rice is now the driving force behind what has become a project with a much broader scope than rehanging an old plaque. An ad hoc committee has formed and is planning to incorporate the 60-pound plaque into a new veterans monument in Gazebo Park across from town hall.
Under consideration is a wall listing the names of local veterans and possibly the use of black marble. The committee is reviewing designs and materials for the monument and requesting estimates. Committee members have traveled to look at monuments in other Ohio communities, including Commercial Point and New Straitsville. The group also is discussing fundraising ideas.
The committee includes Heather Rice, Chris Siscoe, Steve Chambers, David Timmons, Charlie Neff, Lesley Pierce, Billy Martin, Junior Liff, Bonnie Liff, Rebecca Burns, Steve Cooper, Scott McClelland and Joe Johnson.