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Clarendon VFW/Am Vets Post 314 Becomes Lead Donor on Baby Arch project

Photo caption:(L-R) Ike Erdman, Retired Boilermaker Committee Member witnesses ceremonial check presentation from Clarendon VFW/Am Vets Post 314 to Baby Arch Project; Tom Moore Clarendon VFW Post Commander, Dave Progar, John Wester, Warren County Commissioner Cindy Morrison, Lee Stillson, Commissioner Jeff Eggleston, and Commissioner Ben Kafferlin, Ryan Wilson, and Wes Ramsey Executive Director of Penn Soil RC&D accepting the contribution on behalf of the Baby Arch Project. (photo by Walt Atwood)

The Clarendon VFW/Am Vets Post 314 showed up today in full force at a meeting held at the Warren Co. Courthouse to educate the new Warren County Commissioners on the development of a local RC&D project intended to preserve local history and honor the local labor connection to one of America’s Greatest National Monuments-The Gateway Arch. The group did not come empty handed as they brought a donation check totaling $3500.00 to become the lead donor and officially kickstart the fundraising campaign for building a new Baby Arch Monument.

Dave Progar, spokesman for the Clarendon VFW/AM Vets stated, “We are pleased to make this $3500 donation to Penn Soil RC&D Council to support the Baby Arch Project which will create a permanent tribute to the 280 local men who had a hand in creating one of America’s most recognized landmarks-The Gateway Arch located at the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in Saint Louis, MO. This is a good thing for the community and we are happy that we can help make it happen”.

After the meeting with the Commissioners and members of the Retired Boilermakers group spearheading the project, members of the Clarendon VFW and American Veterans Post 314 posed with a ceremonial check issued to Penn Soil RC&D Council, the fiscal agent for the Baby Arch Project.

Penn Soil RC&D Council Executive Director Wes Ramsey accepted the ceremonial check on behalf of Penn Soil RC&D Council and the Retired Boilermakers and pointed out that a website has been set up by Penn Soil RC&D to help raise funds for establishing a new permanent monument to honor the legacy of the workers at the former Pittsburgh Des Moines (PDM) shop in Warren, PA that worked on creating the magnificent Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri. The project website is according to Ramsey, who suggested this fund raising approach and worked on the website development with the project committee.

Ed Atwood, Penn Soil RC&D Council Member representing Warren County and a member of the project committee stated “On behalf of the Committee of Retired Boilermakers, we would like to thank the members of Clarendon VFW and American Veterans Post 314 who have become our lead donor to assist us in our quest for recognition for the men who worked for the Pittsburgh Des Moines Steel Company Plant in Warren, PA, more commonly known as PDM. From 1962 to 1965, there were approximately 280 men who worked on welding, cutting and fabricating the pieces that would be shipped by train and semi-trucks from Warren, PA to St. Louis, MO. Each piece had to be intricately cut, measured and ground to within 1/64 of an inch to make sure they would fit together perfectly with the other two pieces to form the triangle that began the base of each leg on each side. They were built continuously like that, only to be adjusted as the degree for the arch was adjusted.”

“As recommended in a tourism study done by consultant Gary Esolen of PLACES in 2007, it is our wish to build and place a new miniature replica of the Arch at the PA Visitor’s Center located in Starbrick, PA where visitors and tourists often stop to get information regarding information on things to do and also on the history of Warren, PA. Our goal is to complete this Baby Arch project at the Visitor’s Center within the next year, hopefully”, said Atwood.

“Our Project Committee is actively soliciting potential donors for our project to fabricate and erect a replica (Baby Arch) of the St. Louis Gateway Arch at the Warren County Visitors Center to let visitors know that the PDM shop in Warren was the birthplace of the St. Louis Arch”, said Atwood. The Boilermakers' union has also provided our Committee with videos and murals that we could put on display in the Visitor’s Center to help establish the local connection to the Gateway Arch project. Labor for the Baby Arch project is being donated by committee volunteers. We hope that the website will help us raise an estimated $10,000 to pay for the stainless steel, concrete foundations, signage for the highway, and to set up the display in the Visitor’s Center. A prototype model of the “Baby Arch” Replica has already been fabricated in black steel successfully by the committee as a trial run. Now they are ready to purchase the high quality stainless steel for fabricating the real baby arch. Penn Soil Resource Conservation and Development Council, a 501-c-3 charitable organization serving the residents of northwestern PA, is serving as our committee’s financial agent and is now ready to accept donations for the project”, said Atwood.

Ramsey stated that the website contains a wealth of great information regarding the local connection of the work done by men in the Warren shop, combined with information about the October 2012, trip that the Boilermakers Union sponsored for a group of the Retired Boilermakers to actually visit the Gateway Arch in St. Louis for recognition of the Boilermakers role in constructing the majestic Gateway Arch. “I have known about the local connection to the Arch for many years, but until I actually got into creating this website for the Baby Arch Committee, I didn’t realize the full extent of what a truly amazing story this really is” said Ramsey, “The more information, photos, and quotes that I came across during our research, the more I realized that something more permanent absolutely had to be done to record this great feat by local craftsmen, that played such a significant role in a project so important in both our local and national history. I encourage everyone to visit to learn more about this great story, and if possible, to make a tax deductible donation to the project. You can make a donation online, through the mail by check, or in person at the Penn Soil RC&D office”, said Ramsey. Call 814-726-1441 or visit the project website for more information about the project.

The Warren County Commissioners represent one of eight counties who sponsor Penn Soil RC&D Council, a 501-c-3 charitable organization serving the residents of northwest PA since 1964. The mission of this organization is to provide the local leadership necessary to develop and implement a plan that will improve the economy, environmental and social well-being of the people through accelerated planning and development of the natural resources in the project area consisting of Clarion, Crawford, Erie, Forest, Lawrence, Mercer, Venango and Warren Counties. The RC&D Council provides technical and/or financial assistance to community groups who would like to do community improvement projects, but who may not have sufficient legal structure to conduct business or enter into contracts to procure necessary resources, services, and manpower to complete a project. Penn Soil RC&D’s primary area of interest is in improving quality of life in four areas: Water Management, Agricultural Land Management, Forest Land Management, and Community Development.

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