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Tyrone plans first responder monument

Tyrone Borough Council plans to install a monument to first responders near the downtown, based on an idea from Mayor Bill Latchford.

“It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while,” Latchford said this week.

The explosion and fire in Tyrone in July, which required a massive response by firefighters, ambulance workers and police; and the death of a corrections officer in November, after a prison inmate disarmed her at a district court building in Altoona, has provided impetus to push for the project, Latchford said.

Latchford envisions a stone marker celebrating the contributions of all first responders — firefighters, emergency medical service workers and law enforcement personnel — with a few benches, a walkway and green space on what is now a vacant lot catty-corner from the City Hotel Park at 10th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

The borough is in the process of acquiring the lot.

Such a memorial could help encourage people to serve, Latchford said.

“I like the idea,” said Councilman Dave Snyder at a meeting in December, where there was a consensus for Borough Manager Ardean Latchford — the mayor’s brother — to gather more information about the potential project.

Many towns of various sizes have constructed similar memorials, especially since 9/11, the mayor said.

Some people have suggested including a wall with space for names of individuals who deserve to be honored.

The mayor is opposed to individuation, as it could easily result in the omission of deserving names, he said.

Rather, he’d like the monument complex to be “inclusive” — dedicated to all responders “past, present and future,” including those from outside the borough, he said.

Borough officials have suggested a flag and spotlights for the proposed parklet.

It seems council is willing to make the project “a little bigger than I anticipated” — not that he ever contemplated “doing anything on the cheap,” Latchford said.

The mayor has discussed concepts with a Centre County monument firm.

Porcelain inlays with insignia representing the various types of first responder services are a possibility, Latchford said.

“I don’t want it to look like a tombstone,” he said.

The borough would need to advertise for bids for the project, according to Latchford.

No money has been allocated yet, he said.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 814-949-7038.

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