A groundbreaking is scheduled at 3 p.m. July 14 for a 9/11 Memorial in Tuolumne, nearly four years after the project was proposed.

The memorial was made possible thanks largely to Candace Olsen, who raised nearly $72,000 as part of her senior project last semester at Summerville High School.

“I can’t say enough about what Candace did,” said Frank Smart, a Vietnam veteran who has helped the Veterans of Foreign War Post 4748 in Tuolumne throughout the process of turning the proposal into a reality.

Final designs were approved by the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors at a meeting on Tuesday.

The memorial will be located on the east lawn of the Tuolumne Veterans Memorial Hall.

There will be a brick sidewalk leading to an amphitheater made of decomposed granite, a type of material commonly used for patios and walkways.

Two steps lead to a stage that will feature white granite engraved wall panels commemorating the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States and those who served in the subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“Memorials are places where people can go and reflect on events of the past and their loved ones who were involved,” Smart said.

Aaron Rasmussen, commander of the VFW Post 4748, wanted to build the memorial because there are no others in the county specifically for 9/11 victims and veterans who served in the modern wars. He served in Iraq for 11 months from 2004 to 2005.

Rasmussen and Smart were part of the project planning committee, along with John Bright, Margott Weltin, and Ray Crnkovich.

Much of the construction will be completed through in-kind donations from local contractors and businesses, including Brett and Luke Taylor (masonry), Flo Griggs (flagpole), Ron Sutton (electrical), Boones Memorials (engraved stones), John and Tom Welldon (living iron), Pinnel Carpeting (9/11 steel), Land and Structure (topography), and Mark Garner (Sierra plaster).

Smart said they raised a total of about $90,000 for the project, in addition to Olsen’s contribution, a $12,000 grant from the Sonora Area Foundation, and $6,000 from selling commemorative bricks that will be part of the memorial.

The project faced some setbacks largely due to funding, which Smart blamed partly on himself.

“The main thing was that all of a sudden, my energy disappeared,” he said. “I’m 77 years old and just didn’t have the energy I used to have and wasn’t getting things done that I needed to do.”

Smart was recruited to help with the project because he’s helped raise money for several others throughout the county, including the one outside of the Tuolumne County Library main branch in Sonora.

Smart praised the county for its cooperation with the 9/11 memorial.

“From day one, the county has been very cooperative, helpful, and supportive of this memorial,” he said. “Daniel Richardson, Quincy Yaley, and Ed Hoag, all those people were on board. Sometimes government throws roadblocks in front of you, but they never did that to us.”

Smart said the goal is to have the project completed for a dedication ceremony on Sept. 11.

Contact Alex MacLean at amaclean@uniondemocrat.com or (209) 588-4530.

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