Memorial centerpiece will be made of jade

Posted: Friday, December 26, 2003

FAIRBANKS - The centerpiece for the peace officer memorial here will be a 3,600-pound chunk of Kotzebue jade, donated to the city of Fairbanks by the NANA Native Corp.

"It's a huge piece of rock," Mayor Steve Thompson said admiringly.

Jade is the Alaska state gemstone.

The idea of a memorial to honor Fairbanks-area police and Alaska State Troopers killed in the line of duty came up soon after the death of Fairbanks police Officer Kevin Lamm in 1998, said Fairbanks police Lt. Dan Hoffman.

The project gained momentum after the city's new police station was completed last year.

Hoffman said the police officers and employees working on the memorial decided it should have a centerpiece of jade. The Native corporation agreed to donate a rock mined in the Kotzebue area and valued at about $18,000.

But finding a way to get the jade moved to Fairbanks was a challenge.

"It was hung up in Kotzebue for a while," Hoffman said. "It's a 3,600-pound rock - how do we get this rock from Kotzebue to Fairbanks?"

Lynden Transport agreed to fly the jade to Anchorage then truck it to Fairbanks.

It arrived a few months ago and is being stored in the Laborers Union Local 942 building.

Hoffman said all labor and materials for the memorial have been donated so far. He said the department has applied for a federal grant of more than $20,000 to pay for the project, but work on the memorial will proceed using more volunteers should it fall through.

"Even if we don't get the grant, I'm confident that we'll be able to make a nice memorial regardless," he said.

The plan is to finish and install the memorial in 2004, the 100th anniversary of the Fairbanks Police Department.

"Right now, we're shooting for a July 4 dedication ceremony," Hoffman said.

The design of the memorial will be decided by a panel organized by the police department, said Jerry Neubert of the USKH architectural firm, which is doing the design work.

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