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Snellville memorial moving forward

SNELLVILLE -- A Snellville city councilman needs some help from the community in his quest to relight the "eternal flame" memorial.

Last Veterans Day, Tom Witts made a promise to relight the flame at the city's Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which has been extinguished since it was moved from an old city hall site to a new one in 2005.

"As a veteran myself, and being involved in veteran organizations, I was well aware that the eternal flame meant more to the veterans than the city fathers realized," Witts said. "For years, I was part of the ceremony that included placing a wreath on the monument each Memorial Day. But when the monument was moved to its current location and the flame wasn't relit that tradition ended."

After a year of snags, including the inability to locate a gas line in the marker's current location and objections to moving the Vietnam memorial, Witts is excited to see people volunteer to help.

Thanks to the work of former Councilman Chad Smith, an architect, Witts has a plan to create a new memorial for all veterans, who served from the Revolutionary War to current times.

The project, expected to cost $40,000 to $50,000, will be built on an enbankment next to the senior center at the the City Hall complex at U.S. Highway 78 and Oak Road.

Witts hopes it will be complete no later than Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2013, or maybe even by the Fourth of July. But first the funds must be raised.

This fall, Witts plans a campaign to sell tiles on the wall of veterans for $120 apiece, or brick pavers for $120 or $175, depending on the size. He hopes to sell 700 bricks, raising enough money for the construction as well as money to cover the gas bill for the flame for several years.

For more information or to buy a brick, contact Witts at 770-891-1612 or email him at twitts@Snellville.org.

"I'm excited at the way it's taken off," Witts said of the volunteer effort, which has Smith donating his work, as well as several civil engineers. "I think it's going to be something we can be proud of."