Broken lights at police-fire memorial getting fixed for free

A local electric company has donated new lights to the city's police and firefighters memorial on Wells Street.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – One of Fort Wayne’s most prominent memorials hasn’t been fully lit for more than eight months due to damaged lights. Now, a local electric company has offered to fix them for free.

The in-ground lights which illuminate the Allen County Law Enforcement-Firefighter Memorial at night are filling with water due to rain. The memorial’s president, Jerry Vandeveer, has to suck the water out with equipment every two-and-a-half months.

He explained that during a construction project a couple of years ago, the water-tight seals on all 15 memorial lights broke. The wiring in six of the lights is so corroded that they don’t function anymore.

“We had one right in the center where the main flags are,” Vandeveer said. “I sucked it all out and I was dumping the water fast. I came back to put the screws in and close it back up and I see the water going at least an inch tall. It was coming up that fast. So it was a big problem.”

So, he asked WANE-TV to put out a call for help. After we aired the story, five electric companies reached out to Vandeveer.

“We’re sitting there high and dry because we tried to do something for the police officers and firefighters and their families and we have nothing,” he said. “We can’t do anything. We don’t have the extra money to do it and here comes Votaw stepping up. They’ve got the heart.”

Votaw Electric is going to spend $10,000 to fix the lights. They were not asked to do it for free, but they are. They said it’s the right thing to do.

“With the things going on with the nation right now  and with police officers and firefighters they protect and serve us everyday in this community,” said Pam Sorg, Votaw’s customer relations coordinator. “We just want to show our appreciation towards them and serve them in this way.”

Vandeveer said he can’t wait to see the memorial in full glory again.

“When they are lit, man, I’m telling you it lights that’s whole place up,” he said. “So, it’s really going to be an enhancement.”

Votaw managers said this will be a pretty easy project. It’ll take a 12 man crew just one day in August to fix the lights.

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