Archive for July, 2003

Respect Project is dedicated to Firefighters & Police

Funds roll in for tribute sculpture – Original Scanned Copy


Burton – The city with a reputation for memorializing military veterans is on its way to recognizing police officers and firefighters, too.

The Burton police and fire departments have raised about $5,000 toward their $30,000 goal to pay for a pair of 7-foot statues recognizing police and firefighters.

The statues are to be erected on the hill in front of Burton police headquarters, putting them not far from the veterans monument.

Fire Chief Doug Halstead said the statues will act as a reminder of the difficult and dangerous jobs police and fire personnel do each day for the communities they serve.

“You’ve seen a lot of memorials to honor dead police officers and firefighters since Sept. 11,” he said. “What we wanted to have was something to let the people doing the job now know how much we appreciate their service.

“You’ve got to let them know, while they’re around to see it, how much we appreciate them being out there laying their lives on the line.”

The two statues, called the “Respect Project,” will be 3-inch thick silhouette-like representations of a firefighter and police officer bowing their heads.

Several local businesses have committed money to the project, and the fire department is selling engraved bricks leading to the statues.

Dennis Gardner, owner of Welding Plus in Flint, is creating the statues with Halstead. Both are retired Flint firefighters.

Gardner and artist Ron Gallock came up with the idea more than a decade ago.

“There’s a sadness you feel after a fire where you realize what has happened, and we wanted to express that somehow in a sculpture,” Gardner said. “I wasn’t aware of the city’s great (veterans) memorial when I talked to Doug about this, and he liked the idea.

“I’m happy to be doing this after kicking it around for years and years.”

City Councilman Bob Centilli, a building contractor, has signed on to help prepare the area surrounding the statues, which some hope can be placed in time for a dedication on or around Sept. 11.

“It’s a beautiful memorial, and it’s something we need because it’s for all the people serving right now,” he said. “It’ll be special, but it’s also not going to take away from the veterans memorial that’s right near there.”

Chad Swiatecki covers the Burton and Davison areas. He can be reached at (810) 766-6237 or
© 2003 Flint Journal. Used with permission

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