ELIZABETHTOWN — Essex County lawmakers say they want to help World War II veterans visit their memorial in Washington, D.C., but using taxpayer funds for it may not be legal.
World War II veteran Joe DeMarco of Jay addressed the County Board of Supervisors Public Safety Committee on Monday to ask them to contribute to Honor Fight of the North Country, a group that flies veterans to see the National World War II Memorial at no charge.
“We are trying our best to help them fund their trips to Washington,” DeMarco said. “Every flight costs over $10,000, and they could really use your help.”
DeMarco said he feels all veterans should be able to visit the memorial. Only 1.4 million World War II veterans are still alive, he said.
“Fifty-nine years after the war ended, the memorial was built.”
He said two more flights are planned this year, and they could really use monetary help from the Board of Supervisors. He said state and federal legislators told him no aid was available.
“It is unfortunate there is no state or federal funding for our World War II veterans to get there,” Board Chair Randy Douglas (D-Jay) said. “I think it would be appropriate and taxpayer dollars well spent.”
‘GOOD, GOOD CAUSE’
The problem is that state law may bar them from contributing, Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava (R-Moriah) said.
“It is an appropriate use of the money, but I do question the legality of it,” he said. “That’s one thing that has to be checked out.”
Supervisor Randy Preston (I-Wilmington), who chairs the Safety Committee, said the county attorney will have to be consulted before they do anything.
Supervisor Gerald Morrow (D-Chesterfield) did mention a fundraiser in Keeseville for Honor Fight of the North Country that raised $2,000.
“It’s such a good, good cause,” he said. “I think this worthwhile for our tax dollars to fund.”
OTHER WAYS TO HELP
Morrow said there might be ways they could aid the flights and come within the law.
“You can sign a contract for services,” he said. “You can never donate money, never.”
Supervisor Margaret Bartley (D-Elizabethtown) said she is the daughter of a World War II veteran and believes getting the word out so people can donate would be more effective than writing a check from the county.
North Country Honor Flight, part of the National Honor Flight Network, is a nonprofit organization created to honor the North Country’s veterans for their sacrifices.
Donations may be mailed to North Country Honor Flight, 1 Derek Drive, Keeseville, NY 12944.
The most recent North Country Honor Flight was June 8; another took place in May. After flying to Washington from Plattsburgh International Airport, the veterans visited the World War II Memorial, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Arlington National Cemetery and the Iwo Jima Monument.
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