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John Doar Trail to receive state historical marker

John Doar family members (from left) sons Robert and Michael, daughter Gael and son Burke unveiled the final interpretive panel signaling the grand opening of the John Doar History Trail surrounding the Mill Pond in New Richmond, Saturday, Aug. 26. Tom Lindfors / RiverTown Multimedia

An official state historical marker in honor of the late John Doar will be formally dedicated on Tuesday, Oct. 9, at 11 a.m. in downtown New Richmond, near the start of the John Doar History Trail (150 W. First St.) overlooking the mill pond. The event is open to the public.

"The award we are receiving typically goes to a library, museum or a municipality that has done a big event in the past year that really did a good job of recognizing our state or national history while making history come alive for the community," said management analyst Noah Wiedenfeld.

The Wisconsin Historical Society's Ruth and Hartley Barker Director, Christian Overland, will be a guest speaker at the ceremony and recognize the city with the 2018 Board of Curators Public Program Award in recognition of last year's three-day John Doar History Trail Community Celebration. Following remarks from Mayor Fred Horne, Rep. Rob Stafsholt, Sen. Patty Schachtner, and the Doar family, the historical marker will be formally unveiled. The ceremony will conclude with photos and refreshments.

"When they called us to tell us we were going to be recognized, they asked if we had considered dedicating a state historical marker for the John Doar Trail. It is usually a six -month review process after the submission of a nomination as well as information about the individual or significant place that would be recognized by the marker," Wiedenfeld said. "But they said that for this they would expedite the process if we were willing to do the marker and we could do them both at the same time. It maybe took them a week to review the project, which I think they were able to justify given the significance of John Doar and the fact that people in Wisconsin might not know much about him or that he was from Wisconsin."

The marker — which will be 3.5-by-3.5 feet and sit on a single post — will be double-sided, Wiedenfeld said. One side will feature text about Doar's youth in New Richmond and the Civil Rights movement, while the backside will continue his life's story with the impeachment inquiry and end with the dedication of the trail from last year.

"We looked into it and thought it would be a nice addition to the trail. We worked with the Doar family to approve the text that would be on the marker itself," Wiedenfeld said. "We made sure that it wasn't repetitive of what was already on the trail. The sign is being made in Ohio and is a cast aluminum marker. It is being shipped here now and it should arrive on time. It will be installed toward the beginning of the trail."

The marker won't be installed until it's unveiled to the crowd as part of the ceremony, which will be between 20-30 minutes long. According to Wiedenfeld, the only other state marker the city has is by Cyclone Park and that is the largest size of marker that can be installed. The John Doar Trail marker will be bronze in color and have white letters.

"If you think about John Doar, I think everyone would agree that he is deserving of having this kind of recognition," Wiedenfeld said. "We think it is a nice addition that really ties in with our efforts recently to try to celebrate our local history. We are excited about the event."

The city is working on having a student from New Richmond High School read the narrative text that is featured on the marker, as well as having a student sing the national anthem. However, nothing is set in stone given the event is on a Tuesday morning.

"We thought that would be a neat idea considering this marker will be here 50 years from now. One of the neat things about the trail is that it will help future generations learn about John Doar," Wiedenfeld said.

Although Wiedenfeld and the city were surprised to be recognized by the Wisconsin Historical Society for last year's John Doar History Trail Community Celebration, Wiedenfeld feels that all the hard work the city staff, volunteers and the community as a whole put into the event made it worthy of recognition.

"When you look at the depth of the event, in some ways I'm not surprised that we received this honor. However, looking back at the event, there were so many different components to it ... and to think that all those people came in for an event in New Richmond, Wis. was pretty cool," Wiedenfeld said. "But at the same time, we aren't a museum or a community that has events like that very often, so to receive the award over a lot of other events throughout the state all of last year says a lot about the volunteers and the people who made that event special."

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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