Building benches for heroes

BENCHES: Students Scott McCumber and Ed Byrnes in the welding and fabrication program at the Mecosta-Osceola Intermediate School District Career Center, work to create designs that will soon be represented on five benches in the Holland Park Veterans and Homefront Heroes Memorial. (Pioneer photo/Katlyn Vuillemot)

BENCHES: Students Scott McCumber and Ed Byrnes in the welding and fabrication program at the Mecosta-Osceola Intermediate School District Career Center, work to create designs that will soon be represented on five benches in the Holland Park Veterans and Homefront Heroes Memorial. (Pioneer photo/Katlyn Vuillemot)

MOISD students help in the Holland Park Veterans and Homefront Heroes Memorial by building benches

BIG RAPIDS — When community members come together to work on a project for the city, the diversity of skills and knowledge greatly expands.

When that help from the community involves students from the Mecosta-Osceola Intermediate School District Career Center, the possibilities and creativity for the project become endless.

There will be five benches at Holland Park, that were hand-crafted by students at the MOISD Career Center.

“We heard the AMVETS were working on the memorial, and I knew that it was a great opportunity for students at the career center to get involved and use their skills,” said Mike Miller, principal at the career center.

The project involves many students, starting with Collin Ames, a student in the graphic design program, who took the idea that Big Rapids AMVETS Post No. 1941 had for a design and created it in Adobe Illustrator.

“Creating the design wasn’t hard, but it took a lot of time because I had to make sure it would work with the plasma cutter,” said Ames.

The design includes two different symbols, one of an outline of Michigan with a family inside, and the other of a soldier holding a rifle. Students also will cut out the dedication words onto the back of the bench from those who purchased it.

Once Ames had the design created, he sent it over to the computer-aided design (CAD) program where Taylor Erickson, prepared the material for cutting.

“It was my job to take the design, edit it and put it into a format so the welding students could cut it out,” Erickson said. “I’m proud of what I was able to do because it shows my respect for the troops.”

The final step is for the welding and fabrication students to cut out the design that will become the back of each bench in the memorial at Holland Park.

DESIGN: Scott McCumber works with a plasma cutter to create the designs for the Holland Park Veterans and Homefront Heroes Memorial benches. (Pioneer photo/Katlyn Vuillemot)

DESIGN: Scott McCumber works with a plasma cutter to create the designs for the Holland Park Veterans and Homefront Heroes Memorial benches. (Pioneer photo/Katlyn Vuillemot)

Scott McCumber and Ed Byrnes, took the reins in creating the backs of the benches.

“For the benches, we are creating the backside that will display the designs we cut out,” McCumber said. “To do that we are using a plasma cutter.”

The benches will be completely made out of steel, except for the seat which will be wood.

“The benches will show the work we can do and we will be able to show our future families,” Byrnes said.

Mike Schmidt, welding and fabrication instructor at the career center, couldn’t be more proud of the work his students are doing that will soon become part of history.

“It’s a lot of work for the students, but it gives them a chance to get involved with real-world projects,” said Schmidt. “They are doing something for the community that later they will be able to show to their families.”

Due to the involvement of the community, all parts of the benches have been donated to the students for them to work with.

Around two years ago when the Big Rapids AMVETS became interested in a Veterans and Homefront Heroes Memorial, they didn’t know how much community support and involvement would become part of the project.

“We really wanted a memorial that would honor both veterans and homefront heroes,” said Jean Bennett, co-chair of the Big Rapids AMVETS.

With the support of the Big Rapids community, that hope became a reality.

Big Rapids’ Holland Park will soon be renovated to host the Veterans and Homefront Heroes Memorial.

“The memorial is meant to honor all veterans, with a special tribute to homefront heroes,” Bennett said.

The memorial will include a display with the insignia of each of the U.S armed forces, four gateway pillars representing the point of a compass, which will surround the memorial and an American flag and service flags of each branch of the military.

Renovation of Holland Park for the memorial is expected to begin this spring.

Two of the five benches have been sold. For those interested in purchasing a bench and dedicating it to a current military member, veteran or homefront hero, contact Jean Bennett at (231) 823-2366.

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Posted by Katlyn Vuillemot

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