RCMP revive campaign to restore Mayerthorpe memorial for fallen Mounties
'The whole memorial park is very important to the RCMP family'
Alberta's policing community has come together to help restore a tribute honouring four Mayerthorpe RCMP constables killed in the line of duty 14 years ago.
"Members of the RCMP have come out in droves to support this project and get our park back up to snuff," said Colette McKillop with the Fallen Four Memorial Society.
"It's just been phenomenal how many people have supported the project."
The Fallen Four Memorial Park honours Brock Myrol, Anthony Gordon, Leo Johnston and Peter Schiemann, who were ambushed and killed by James Roszko on March 3, 2005, while investigating a marijuana grow operation and chop shop outside of town. It was the single worst multiple killing of RCMP officers in modern Canadian history.
The park's four bronze statues, each a life-size likeness of one fallen officer, stand guard over a quiet green space in the town's southwest.
The memorial, a tribute to all fallen peace officers and paramedics, was unveiled in 2008 after a three-year fundraising campaign.
Since then, the site has deteriorated, McKillop said. The memorial's giant center obelisk and the four plinths that support the bronze statues are beginning to crack.
"The plinths are sitting on a centre compass circle and the statue of each of the members is pointing in the direction of their home," McKillop said. "The foundation of it has started to sag and drift away.
"Water was pooling and it was not looking as beautiful as it did 10 years ago. We're looking to make those repairs and hoping to improve it's longevity over time."
When the charity group launched a fundraising campaign to pay for repairs seven months ago, it hoped to raise $17,000. But donations were slow and stalled at about $1,000 for several months.
McKillop was about to give up and delete the donation page when Mandy Love, an RCMP constable on their board, offered to share it widely among RCMP members across the province.
The offer paid off, and last Friday donations spiked.
"Whoo, off we went," McKillop said. "When I went to go on our donation page, all of a sudden I saw that our donations were up over $2,000 mark. And I thought, wow, what is happening?
"And blip, blip, blip, it just took off, and by five o'clock that day we were over the $4,000 mark. And by the following Monday, we were over the goal of $17,000. It was just amazing."
As of Friday, more than $23,000 had been donated.
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The additional money will allow the society to repair structural damage and clean and resurface the statues.
McKillop is looking forward to having the restorations completed before summer. The park remains a deeply important place for the community, she said.
More than 7,000 people visit the memorial every year.
"When I go by the park, pretty much on a daily basis, there are always new flowers, new kind notes left at the statues, people in to pay their respects," she said.
"The whole memorial park is very important to the RCMP family."