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Indian River student raises $9,000 for military statue

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ALEXANDRIA BAY — Shannon D. Bartlett, Theresa, has done what many cannot say: She left a permanent mark on her community.

The 17-year-old Girl Scout will receive a Gold Award for raising $9,000 over the past two years for a monument honoring fallen members of all military branches at the John B. Lyman American Legion Post 904.

The dedication ceremony for the monument occurred May 11.

“When my cousin passed away in 2008, the American Legion was right there to help us,” said Miss Bartlett, an Indian River High School junior.

Her cousin, Pfc. Jack T. Sweet, a 10th Mountain Division soldier, died in Iraq when his vehicle was hit by a bomb. The Alexandria Bay native was 19 at the time.

“He was a very nice guy,” Miss Bartlett said. “Everyone found him to be just a funny and sweet guy.”

When she began preparing for the Gold Award, the highest honor in Girl Scouts, she wanted to honor the American Legion, her cousin and all the American soldiers who died the same way — defending their country.

Most of the money was raised at the Legion through chicken barbecues and bake sales during monthly fish fry events.

“We also sent out donation letters to Rotary clubs, auxiliaries and fire departments,” she said.

The statue cost $5,000. The rest of the money will be used to purchase new lighting and other items to maintain the area around the monument, she said.

Richard L. Drake, commander of American Legion Post 904, found the work she put into fundraising impressive.

“It was something she stayed on top of,” he said. “She inspired the Legion to embellish her goal. I had a lot of compliments on it. People love it.”

To make her statue stand out, he said, the American Legion fixed broken pavement in front of the building and installed a new flagpole.

“If we were going to put a monument up here, we were going to do it right,” he said.

Miss Bartlett does not know when she will be given the Gold Award yet, but she is very proud to have left her mark on Alexandria Bay.

However, she said, she feels the community deserves a thank-you as well.

“The community did a huge amount to help support me,” she said. “I would like them to feel proud that they helped raise the money for the monument.”

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