Five local residents met May 24 for the first organzational meeting of the Woonsocket War Memorial Committee at , and members say good things are in store for the Place Jolicoeur Momument.
Lorraine Corey, publisher of MyWoonsocket.com, said she first heard about the idea to form a committee to see to the care of Place Jolicoeur and the city's other monuments from Jeanne Pepin-Budnick, chairperson of the Blackstone Valley Independent Business Alliance and an owner of .
Jeanne asked her what she thought of the idea. "I said, 'Yes, it's a great idea,' " Corey said. Place Jolicoeur is in disrepair, Corey said. She said she first learned of the deterioration of the monument while taking photographs of local landmarks for her website, so she'd have photos to use when writing about local places.
That brought her to Woonsocket Fire Department Headquarters at 5 Cumberland Hill Road, where the Place Jolicoeur Monument is located. She took a close look, and while she can't speak to the condition of the other monuments in town, "This one, I know, is in dire need of repair."
The memorial at Fire Department Headquarters on Cumberland Street, once painted gray, is now speckled with gray flakes of paint. The base of the cross at the top of the memorial, opposite the plaque, is crumbling. Its plaque states it was dedicated to the memory of William Jolicoueur in 1921. It was dedicated again in 1952 to the Gagne brothers: Alexandre, Henri and Louis.
The spot was the subject of a challenge from the FFRF demanding removal of religious symbols from the Place Jolicoeur memorial and Fire Department website earlier this month.
Corey said that as of May 14, there was $15,050 in the fund set up to collect donations to the Place Jolicoeur Memorial, which may also be used for repairs to other memorials.
The other members fo the committee include veteran Tom Poole, Ftr. Bill Salois, and Richard Schatz of the United Veterans Council.
Budnick, the chairman of the committee, said Place Jolicoeur will be the first monument they turn their attention to. She wasn't willing to take full credit for setting up the committee. "I think it was the group's idea," Budnick said. Customers at Pepin Lumber still ask about the monument, and they continue to sell crosses, $5 for a two-foot cross, $10 for a 4-foot version, with all the proceeds going to the city's War Memorial Defense and Preservation Fund. She said she's sold crosses to people from Westerly to Wrentham.
Whoever is credited with starting the group, Budnick said it's something she and her fellow committee members felt deserved their devoted attention. "The city has enough on their hands right now," Budnick said. She said details will be released during their next meeting, June 14, 5 p.m., at the Harris Public Library.
But she said she hopes Place Jolicoeur will be fixed up by July 4th. "It looks like we've got some good things coming," Budnick said.