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As time fades memories, the Andrew Jackson Higgins Memorial in Columbus it will not.

The memorial, which includes a Higgins boat replica, three life-size bronze statues of U.S. soldiers and statue of Andrew Jackson Higgins, is a major tourist attraction in the area. Recently, The Andrew Jackson Higgins Memorial Foundation secured funding for renovation work on the memorial.

Dennis Hirschbrunner, a foundation board member, said this will be the first renovation work conducted on the memorial since it's construction. He said it’s important to maintain the structure as it honors those who have severed in the U.S. military.

“It is a memorial, and it needs to be treated as a memorial and kept up for all the relatives of the service men and women who served the country and are honored here by the memorial,” Hirschbrunner said. “The other reason is this has become a huge tourist attraction.”

B-D Construction will take on the project. Renovation work will include landscaping, an expansion of the irrigation system, additional sand placement and refinishing the three soldiers and Higgins sculptures. But the biggest part of the project will involve the memorial’s Higgins boat.

A crane will be used to move the boat so it can be sanded and repainted. Before it will be returned, a protective barrier made of either plastic or rubber will be put into place between the boat and the concrete base. Hirschbrunner said this will help to decrease the rate of rusting on the metallic vessel.

The project will be funded by a $31,000 grant awarded from the Platte County Board of Supervisors from the visitor improvement fund.

District 6 Supervisor and board chairman Jerry Engdahl said the decision to approve the grant application was unanimous. He said the memorial is a major visitor attraction to the area and the renovation project was vital to its longevity.

“It's kind of a big thing, I don't care what you have, a boat or a building you’ve got to maintain it,” Engdahl said of the renovation project. “That group (foundation) has done a good job from day one, and I have no doubt that everything is going to look better than what it was.”

Hirschbrunner said the goal is to complete all renovation work by Memorial Day on May 27, 2019.

“We want to keep it to honor everyone who served and to make sure it’s an attractive tourist attraction for everyone who sees it,” Hirschbrunner said.

Eric Schucht is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at eric.schucht@lee.net.

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Eric Schucht earned his bachelor's degree in journalism at the University of Oregon in 2018. He has written for The Cottage Grove Sentinel, The Creswell Chronicle, The Pacific Northwest Inlander and The Roseburg News Review.

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