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Army veteran Bernie Klemanek, of Mineral, Va., stops to salute his fallen comrades at 'The Wall' at the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C. A Southern Oregon veterans group has gotten approval to install a replica of the wall at U.S. Cellular Community Park. AP Photo/J. David Ake

It's official, the wall is a go

Kenny Rogers had something to sing about Thursday after the Medford City Council approved placing a replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in U.S. Cellular Community Park.

The decision came hours before Rogers was to perform a benefit concert for the project at The Expo in Central Point.

The city will enter into a 25-year lease agreement with Southern Oregon Veterans Benefits, allowing the group to erect a scaled version of the Vietnam Memorial Wall on 2.1 acres at the south Medford sports park.

"It's a fantastic project," said Councilor Daniel Bunn.

Organizers had failed at their attempts to place the wall at Veterans Park in Medford and multiple sites in Central Point in recent years.

The memorial will be located between Lowry Lane, which loops through the park, and the Bear Creek Greenway, across the street from Coyote Trails Nature Center.

The proposed lease is for $1 a year for a renewable 25-year period. Southern Oregon Veterans Benefits will be responsible for construction, land-use planning and maintenance.

"I'm ecstatic," Southern Oregon Veterans Benefits member Ron Kohl said.

The wall will cost $300,000, with collateral elements such as trees, benches and site work adding another $200,000.

Kohl said he has about $40,000 to work with so far for operating expenses.

He said he didn't think it would take long to raise the money to build the aluminum alloy wall now that a location has been determined.

"I don't think it will take years," Kohl said. "I think it will take months."

He said he thinks he will have the money in hand by the end of the year, along with in-kind contributions.

It should take about four months to build the wall, which will have the names of the 58,262 who died in Vietnam, with room to add more names if other remains are found. In addition, landscaping, flag poles and benches will be installed.

To reach Kohl, email ron@sovbmemorialwall.com or call 541-500-1274.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com. Follow him on www.twitter.com/reporterdm.

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