GREENVILLE — Donations are sought to help encase military uniforms on display in the Veterans Building on the Darke County Fairgrounds.
At the 2016 Darke County Fair, Chris Nehring a Fort GreenVille Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) member and a veteran herself, was impressed with the military collection while volunteering but was concerned about the display of uniforms being out in the elements.
Then that November, at the 196th Light Infantry Brigade SP4 Robert L. Fowble Jr. and PFC Jack E. Beam Memorial Highway dedication, Dave Eichhorn, president of the brigade association, wanted to thank the Fort GreeneVille DAR for organizing the highway dedication. It was then that Regent Debbie Nisonger suggested the preservation of the military uniform collection at the Veterans Building. Soon after, the 196th Light Infantry Brigade Association sent a donation.
The DAR, according to Nisonger, presented the money and proposal to Jim Kammer, commander of the Darke County Council of American Legion.
“The council was very accepting of this project and the project is now underway,” Nisonger said.
Dave Manges military collections consultant at Garst Museum, surveyed the contents of the Veterans Building in December 2016. Nisonger said he has the expertise and organizational skills as a military collections consultant and is invaluable with this project. He will be volunteering by organizing/grouping the uniforms for display.
A rough proposal from the Ansonia Lumber Co. indicates Phase 1 of the project will be an estimated $4,800 and will focus on the main room wall, 47 feet long by 8 feet high and 6 feet in depth. Estimated cost of the second phase for the side room wall [backside] also of the same measures and 4×8-foot Plexiglas, wood and miscellaneous hardware.
Nisonger said donors so far have been the 196th Light Infantry Brigade Association and its president Dave Eichhorn, Fort GreenVille DAR and Greenville Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7262, the latter which is joining the preservation effort of those uniforms.
Caretakers of the Veterans Building are the Veterans Building Committee members and Darke County Council of the American Legion.
“Although the caretakers of the building and its contents is the Darke County Council of the American Legion, it belongs to all local veterans and takes everyone to keep it preserved for generations to come,” said Kammer. “And, it’s for all of the veterans agencies. All of them pay an assessment to help fund things we need for the building.”
Serving on the Veterans Building Interior Restoration Committee are Kammer, Nisonger and Nehring as well as the Veterans Building Committee members and the Darke County Council of the American Legion [the latter comprised of John Grilliot of Versailles, Urban Arling of Osgood, Kenny Preston Sr. of Greenville and Dennis Dickey of Covington].
Carpenters, it was noted, are needed to volunteer their expertise in building the display cases for the uniforms.
The Veterans Building on the fairgrounds was erected in honor and memory of the Union soldiers of Darke County, both living and dead, in the war from 1851 to 1865, and, of all soldiers who supported the government of the United States in any of its wars. This hall was erected and donated by Frank McWhinney and accepted by the Darke County Agricultural Society of 1901, upon the condition that there never shall be sold or given away any intoxicating liquors of any kind upon the grounds of this society.
Kammer explained that somehow the building got out of the veterans’ hands quite a few years back, until Kenny Preston Sr. got it started up again in a tent on the fairgrounds.
“We got with the churches of the county and the fair board and they redid the WDRK building where the Spiritual Life Center is now located,” Kammer said. “They asked us if we wanted to move there but we told them we’d rather stay here. Then, people started donating stuff and it turned into a museum. We’re proud of everything we got.”
The building, in addition to being set up at fair time, has been used for the Thank a Vets 5K registration site, for Illumination and for tours.
“It is opened up for youth…anybody who wants to come through,” Kammer said.
Donations can be given toward the uniform preservation project by contacting [email protected] .