Every day, public works employees put themselves in harm’s way to maintain our infrastructure, and sadly some have lost their lives in performing their duties. An effort is currently underway to create an official state memorial in Concord to those who have died.
In 2009, the legislature passed a law creating the Memorial to Public Works Committee, which will oversee the design, construction and maintenance of the memorial, which is to be situated on the grounds of the Department of Transportation on Hazen Drive. The committee has its design, but it must now raise the money to begin construction of the memorial. With that in mind, the committee has organized a “motorcycle ride-in” fundraiser, with groups of riders driving in to Concord from six areas across the state.
You can find more information about the six areas the ride-in will be departing from, along with more information on the ride-in and the memorial itself, at www.nh.gov/dot/org/operations/highwaymaintenance/memorial.htm.
Christine Bonoli-Stohlberg, an SEA member at the Department of Transportation, said planning for the ride — which is set for June 28 — has been going on for about eight weeks. She said the idea for the ride came from another SEA member at the DOT, Gary Dossett.
“Gary wanted to contribute to the memorial, and he’s an avid motorcyclist,” she said. “He offered to assist with organizing the entire thing.”
Dossett organized six coordinators for different areas around the state; he’ll lead a group from the Seacoast on its hour and a half ride into Concord. He said motorcycle ride fundraisers are usually pretty successful, which explains why there are so many of them during the summer.
“I think the motorcycling community is very supportive of programs like this,” Dossett said. “They’re a generous group of people, and that shows just in the number of rides that are out there on a weekly basis.”
There is a suggested donation of $20 for the driver and an additional $10 for a passenger. All participants will get lunch, which will be served between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Riders will gather at six locations around the state on the morning of the 28th before riding in to the reception portion of the event on Hazen Drive in Concord. Of course, you don’t need to ride a motorcycle to help make the memorial a reality. You can attend the event for the same suggested donation, or you can simply mail a donation to The Public Works Memorial Fund, c/o William P. Janelle, Commissioner’s Office, NH Department of Transportation, PO Box 483, Concord NH 03302-0483.
While the memorial will be located at the DOT, it’s not just for DOT workers, Bonoli-Stohlberg said.
“It’s for any public works employee in any city, town or municipality that has been killed while performing their public duties,” she said. “There are approximately 25 to date that we’ve been able to locate throughout the state.”
She said finding the names has been difficult as records of these deaths aren’t well-kept.
“It really takes the families of those people stepping forward, saying that their parent or grandparent should be on the memorial,” she said.
Dossett said the DOT has lost numerous employees in the line of daily work, and it’s important that they are remembered.
“We honor our military, our police and fire fighters, and these people are public servants just as much as these other groups,” he said. “The work they perform is important, and they should be remembered.”