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By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — Here’s another mystery for people living in the Colfax area: What happened to the American Legion’s bronze plaque that used to be on the base of the flagpole in downtown Colfax?
The solid bronze plaque was displayed on the base of the flagpole when the flagpole was in the triangle at the intersection of state Highway 170 and University Avenue.
The 12-inch by 18-inch plaque read: Dedicated to the Soldiers and Sailors of All Wars. Orrin Russell Post No. 131 American Legion. May 30, 1929.
When Highway 40 was reconstructed in 2004, the flagpole was moved to what is now J.D. Simons Memorial Park a few feet south of where the triangle used to be.
At the time the flagpole was moved, the American Legion’s bronze plaque was removed so it could be cleaned.
Tainter Machine cleaned the plaque and returned it to the Village of Colfax.
And that’s where the trail runs cold.
The plaque has not been seen since.
Replacing the solid bronze plaque was an agenda item for the Colfax Village Board at the October 11 meeting.
Troy Knutson, one of Colfax’s historians, has been searching for the plaque because he would like to see it reinstalled on the flagpole.
Knutson even took the time to paint the base of the flagpole so that it would be ready if and when the plaque was located.
Fortunately, Knutson took a photograph of the plaque prior to the flagpole being moved in 2004 so there is a record of what the now 92-year-old plaque looked like.
Troy has done quite a lot of footwork, but he has been unable to find the plaque, said Lynn Niggemann, village administrator-clerk-treasurer.
Niggemann told the village board that she and other village employees have searched for the plaque as well.
Various people remember seeing the plaque. Some recall that it was in the village hall, and some said they have seen it in Colfax’s cold storage, she said.
“We have searched all over,” Niggemann said, adding that the search has involved several searches in the same areas to be sure the plaque was not over-looked in the initial search.
Not anywhere in the village hall.
Not in the jail cell in Niggemann’s office that is now used for storage.
Not in the Colfax History Room upstairs in the municipal building.
Not in the cold storage unit in the Department of Public Works building on Railroad Avenue.
Several village board members questioned whether it was the village’s responsibility to replace the plaque but then concluded it was the village’s responsibility since it seems the plaque was lost in the village somewhere.
Knutson, who is a member of the Colfax Municipal Building Restoration Group, said perhaps CMBRG would put some money toward replacing the plaque, Niggemann said, adding that CMBRG was meeting the following Sunday.
Several quotes were obtained for replacing the solid bronze plaque.
Citizen Bronze out of Miami, Florida, quoted an estimate of $961 to replace the plaque.
Metal Designs LLC out of Oceanside, New York, quoted a price of $890 for the plaque with text only, but if the emblem and leafing were done three-dimensional, as in the photograph of the plaque, then the cost would be $1,740.
Everwood Industries out of Chisago City, Minnesota, quoted a price of $1,067.
Gary Stene, village trustee, wondered if the village should consider “doing a little more” and add something in honor of the Korean War veterans and the Vietnam War veterans.
“It would be nice if the village would do something,” he said, adding that fund raisers could be used to generate money to pay for additional plaques or flagpoles.
The Colfax Village Board accepted the estimate of $961 from Citizen Bronze to replace the bronze plaque on the flagpole.