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OTORA president gets ample support for Old Town memorial
Steve LeBard, a Marine veteran and president of the Old Town Orcutt Revitalization Association, and his dog, Sugar, pose with a model of a veteran’s memorial monument proposed for a site on West Clark Avenue. Fundraising efforts are under way to construct the memorial, which will include pillars and a flag pole. //Mark Brown/Staff

Already motivated to bring a veteran’s memorial to Old Town Orcutt, Steve LeBard has found further encouragement in the overwhelmingly positive reaction from the community to honor those who have sacrificed for our freedom.

“I’ve never seen so much support,” said LeBard, a Marine veteran who is president of the Old Town Orcutt Revitalization Association (OTORA).

There has been no lack of backers for the proposed Old Town Orcutt Veteran’s Memorial Flagpole, and generous donors have already pledged much of the materials and engineering for the project, LeBard said.

“The support has been so tremendous,” he said.

The memorial, designed by LeBard, features a 60-foot-tall flagpole at its center, from which a 12-by-18-foot United States flag would fly.

Surrounding the flag, five 9-foot-tall black granite columns — representing the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard — would be tilted at a 7-degree angle to appear as if “bowing” or “saluting” the flag, LeBard said.

Each column would have an 18-inch bronze insignia emblem of one of the military branches. On the top of each column, a 50-watt LED spotlight would illuminate the flag year-round.

At the concrete slab base of the flag pole will be a five-pointed star, made of shiny black pebbles, with each point aimed at a column, and a pentagon-shaped sitting area.

The proposed location is near the Caltrans Park and Ride parking lot just west of Highway 135 on Clark Avenue. It is state-owned property and an encroachment permit from Caltrans is needed to build on the site.

OTORA, which is heading the development, is also seeking a legislative resolution from state Sen. Tony Strickland in support of the project, a Caltrans requirement.

LeBard said the flagpole is meant to be taller than the Highway 135 overpass so that it will be prominently visible. The design — meant to be simple in its beauty — is inspired by other memorials to veterans, said LeBard, a Vietnam veteran from 1969 to 1973.

The son of a career Air Force man, LeBard grew up on bases in the U.S. and Europe.

Architectural and engineering plans have been completed. The anodized aluminum tapered flagpole cost OTORA officials $10,000.

Completion of the project is targeted by July 4 — when a dedication ceremony would be held along with a barbecue, LeBard said.

In an October letter to Caltrans District 5 Director Richard Krumholz, Santa Barbara County 4th District Supervisor Joni Gray said the county and her staff are committed to helping the memorial become a reality.

“I feel this is a fitting tribute to the veterans of Orcutt, and it is my strong desire to see it constructed in the very near future,” she said.

 Other OTORA projects have included planting 26 trees on East Clark Avenue and Broadway, installation of a 17-foot-tall clock on East Clark Avenue and other enhancements to the unincorporated community.

In a recent development, Santa Maria resident Kristin Harlow Johnson, the widow of Senior Airman Daniel Johnson, a 23-year-old member of the Vandenberg Air Force Base’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal team who died Oct. 5 during an attack in Afghanistan, has indicated interest in being a part of the project, LeBard said.

Donations can be sent to: OTORA, 120 E. Clark Ave., Orcutt 93455.

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