WCCC unveils walkway memorial to honor veterans

Posted Oct. 03, 2011, at 5:26 p.m.

CALAIS, Maine — Washington County Community College unveiled Friday its Brick Memorial to honor veterans and current military personnel.

Sgt. Maj. Russell Coltart, retired from the Maine Army National Guard, was honored during the dedication ceremony not only with words of praise for his years in the military and his commitment to the college, but with an engraved brick in the memorial walkway.

Several years ago, then-WCCC President Bill Cassidy and others came up with the idea for a veterans’ memorial because the college has been home to many who have served in the military. Years of planning became reality Friday when the memorial and honorarium bricks were unveiled with more than 50 spectators in attendance. Cassidy returned to the college Friday not only to dedicate the memorial, but to also honor Coltart.

Coltart enlisted in the Maine Army National Guard in 1954 and retired 37 years later in 1991, according to WCCC spokesperson Diana Graettinger. In his remarks, Cassidy said it was Coltart who opened the Maine National Guard Armory in Calais in 1969 to the fledgling Washington County Vocational Technical Institute, now WCCC.

Gregory R. Small, executive director of the Maine Committee for the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, presented Coltart with ESGR’s Lifetime Achievement Award. State Rep. Joyce Maker, R-Calais, also presented him with a Maine State Legislative Sentiment honoring his years of service to the country and state.

Major Gen. John W. Libby, adjutant general of the Maine Army Guard, praised Coltart, according to Graettinger, and shared personal stories about the retired soldier. Libby recalled the time Coltart allowed the armory to be used for WCCC’s opening day classes. “Something that if he had asked for permission it would never have been approved, because that is not what the guard is about,” Libby said. But Coltart did it all for the right reasons, he added.

The memorial, which was completed a few weeks ago, is at the base of a tree planted by children and grandchildren of area veterans in April 2005. Two benches were donated by Cole Land Transportation Museum in Bangor.

Graettinger said individual bricks to honor a veteran can be purchased for $50. The funds are placed in a permanent endowment account with the annual interest helping to fund scholarships for veterans attending the college.

Those who would like to purchase a brick can make the check payable to the WCCC Veterans Scholarship Endowment and mail it to Tina Erskine, Washington County Community College, One College Drive, Calais 04619.

For more information about the scholarship program go to www.wccc.me.edu.

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