Milwaukee County Board signs off on funding for War Memorial, Art Museum

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by Lane Kimble

MILWAUKEE -- For about two years the Milwaukee County Board, veterans and art lovers have been fighting to get, what they call, much needed money from taxpayers. 

Tuesday, that battle ceremoniously ended with those groups getting what they want.

"There is much to accomplish and may we move forward," Milwaukee County War Memorial Board Member George Gaspar said.

Members of the Milwaukee County Board signed off on funding for the War Memorial and Art Museum Tuesday morning.  The agreement  sends nearly $500,000 to the memorial and another $1.1 million to the Art Museum each year through 2023.

County Board Chair Marina Dimitrijevic applauded the board's unanimous 18-0 vote.

"People are really sensitive to the fact that we have men and women dying for, fighting for freedom in our country and  democracy," Dimitrijevic said.  "And right next to that is the ultimate symbol of freedom of expression: an art museum."

But getting here took a two year fight.  County Executive Chris Abele said he'd veto the agreement, thinking tax dollars should go elsewhere.  Abele ultimately decided not to veto, but also refused to sign it.  Veterans are glad he changed his mind.

"The county taxpayers... How much can you ask from them," Vietnam veteran William Goralski said.  "But then again, you cannot neglect things you've invested all your  time and money and, in this case being the War Memorial, your life."

Now, two icons along the lakefront will get upgrades thanks to the people they're in place for.

"Going forward we can work together to have this building be what it can be for the community and for the veterans," newly-awarded county Veteran of the Year Mike Malloy said.

Both buildings will get upgrades with this funding.  There will be a new garden connecting the two and the Art Museum will build a new east atrium.

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