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July 19, 2019

dean hall/Lakeland Times

Don Grundy, director of Camp American Legion, offers a few remarks at the start of the ceremonial groundbreaking ceremony for “The American Legion Family Cabin” Sunday, June 9.
dean hall/Lakeland Times

Don Grundy, director of Camp American Legion, offers a few remarks at the start of the ceremonial groundbreaking ceremony for “The American Legion Family Cabin” Sunday, June 9.
6/18/2019 7:30:00 AM
Groundbreaking held for American Legion Family Cabin

Brian Jopek
Lakeland Times Reporter

In June 2018, there was a groundbreaking at Camp American Legion for a cabin to be designated primarily for use by families of fallen U.S. military service personnel.

That particular project did not materialize for a number of reasons, among them, size - 1,900 square feet - and the estimated cost, which was well over the $300,000 parameter set by the Wisconsin American Legion for the project.

In fact, some of the bids which came in for that cabin were nearly double what the Legion would be able to spend on it.

In the meantime, last fall, one of the camp's cabins on Thrush Road, found to have large amounts of floor rot, was dismantled by a team of veteran volunteers with the organization Team Rubicon.

It's at that site another groundbreaking took place June 9 for what will be known as "The American Legion Family Cabin."

"Honoring our Gold Star Families of the Fallen," the ceremony's program read. "They shall never be forgotten."

'This is huge'

The ceremonial groundbreaking was attended by several Wisconsin American Legion personnel including commander Frank Kostka.

In opening remarks, Wisconsin Army National Guard veteran and camp director Don Grundy, who's in his third year as director and used his background in construction and design to quietly play a significant role in planning and design for the new cabin, told the audience "this is huge for us."

"This is huge for me," he said. "We've been talking about this cabin since I started here ... it's meaningful on a lot of levels. For me personally, as a director, I think it's very exciting and it's very encouraging because of this approach we're taking. Having this entire Legion family come together to build this cabin for what we say is the most deserving customer in the world."

The mission of the American Legion Family Cabin, Kostka said, "is to serve families that have endured loss and hardship through support of the American Legion family."

"This version of this cabin has the strong support of the entire Legion family and others," he said, adding the cabin to be built offers a more "conservative approach" than the original project and is "symbolic and fitting" as representation of the families who will use it as they go through their own rebuilding.

Kostka said it was ultimately decided to build this new cabin at the Thrush Lake location after the plans for the original "Families of the Fallen" cabin, as it was going to be known, fell through.

However, the Legion's intent was to "remain true to the scope" of the original process.

Following the ceremonial groundbreaking using golden shovels, Kostka dedicated the ground where the cabin will stand.

"I dedicate it to the families of those who fell in service to our country," he said.

Kostka concluded by saying his special project this year is to raise money for construction of the cabin.

The Wisconsin American Legion Riders will be conducting a "Legacy 100 Ride" on July 14-17 from Ashland to Madison.

"All the money taken in from registrations and donations will be brought together to build this cabin," Kostka said.

The new, 980-square-foot cabin is expected to feature two bedrooms, a full kitchen and a living area.

The cabin will also have a deck and access to Little Tomahawk Lake.

According to Grundy, the bids were to go out last week with the goal of having construction start in early August and be completed before the end of the year.

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