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Shovels turn for Veterans Memorial

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Members of the Moonlighters Exchange Club break ground for the Owatonna Veterans Memorial. Shown with shovels are from left: Lynn Limberg, Lori Arnold, Karen Hale, Katie Smith, Charlene Wolff, Nicole Wacek, Rhonda Guthier, Liane Peterson and Trudy Pierce. Construction will start this fall on the project, located at the corner of 18th Street S.E. and Austin Road, near the Steele County History Center.
Joni Hubred, News Editor


At an event eight years in the making, Moonlighters Exchange Club members finally broke ground last week for the Owatonna Veterans Memorial.

The Tuesday ceremony drew club members, the Steele County Honor Guard, Steele County officials, and Owatonna Chamber of Commerce and Tourism ambassadors to the corner of 18th Street S.E. and Austin Road, just west of the Steele County History Center.

Moonlighters president Nicole Wacek’s voice broke as she talked about the years of planning and support from veterans organizations and community members.

“I’m here today to say that the Moonlighters Exchange Club of Owatonna, we did it. We did it,” she said. “There will finally be a place to honor our loved ones in Owatonna, which has been long overdue.”

While there have been “hiccups” along the way, Wacek said, the first payment has been made for granite has been made. Construction will begin this fall.

Those hiccups centered around finding a location. After several other sites fell through, the club finally reached an agreement with Steele County officials for the county-owned property.

Commissioner Greg Krueger thanked the Moonlighters for “sticking with it and getting it done.”

“I’m glad we as county and county commissioners could have a small part in this,” he said.

Owatonna mayor Thomas Kuntz said the Moonlighter’s club “has bent over backwards to try and make this thing work.”

“It’s just another great day for the City of Owatonna,” he said. “What a great way to honor veterans.”

Wacek said she comes from a military family. Her grandfather and most of his brothers served, as did her uncles. Her father was unable to serve for health reasons.

“This has been very important to me, very, very near and dear to my heart,” Wacek said.

The Moonlighters is one of three Exchange Clubs in Owatonna; they meet on the second and fourth Monday of each month at the VFW Club. Their core project, Wacek said, has been the memorial.

The next step will center around fundraising, to the tune of $300,000. A thermometer sign on the site will track the club’s efforts.

Wacek said the granite will not be delivered to Owatonna Monument until January, but footings will be poured this fall. She estimates the granite will go in by May; the club hopes to hold a dedication on Memorial Day.

To learn more about the project or to donate, visit

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