ROCHESTER, Minn. - Firefighting is a multi-generational family affair for Stuart Morem and Chris Skaalen. They are firefighters, as were their fathers. Now, their sons are following in their footsteps.
The Harmony Fire Department is made up entirely of volunteers. Morem and Skaalen are working to establish a memorial in front of the Harmony fire house to honor the dedication of the community's volunteer firefighters.
"My dad passed away a couple years ago. He was a long time member of the fire department and my brother, myself, decided we wanted to do something," explains Morem. After some research and working with Lanesboro-based designer Jason Resseman, Morem and Skaalen determined they'd need about $80,000 to build the project.
They say they're amazed by the community support. They've already raised 70% of the necessary funds. "I'd open an envelope and there'd be a $5,000 dollar check in there and it just blew me away and I'd get on the phone and say, 'You're not going to believe this,'" says Skaalen.
The memorial will feature a 6-foot-2-inches tall bronze firefighter statue. The statue will be unique. Everything about it, right down to the gear and hat, will resemble Harmony firefighters. "They tailor-make their statues to the department so... when you look at it, it's your guy," adds Skaalen.
The goal is to have the memorial finished in time to dedicate it at Harmony's 4th of July celebration.
They also hope to have kiosks at the memorial with information about the department and people who donated to the memorial.
If you'd like to contribute to the fundraising efforts, you can make a check out to the Harmony Fire Department and mail it to P.O. box 429 Harmony, MN 55939.