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Degen & Manugian’s Bid To Defund Cannon Restoration Rebuffed

Cannon Was Given To Town By U.S. Army For Groton Man Who Gave His Life To Save His Men in WW I
by Connie Sartini
In an effort to streamline the October 3 Fall Town Meeting, town officials used a ‘consent agenda’ that combines several articles into one to reduce the number of individual motions into a single vote. Among those articles using the consent agenda approach were the 7 articles unanimously recommended by the Community Preservation Committee.
     Town Moderator Jason Kauppi advised the voters that if anyone wished to discuss a particular item, they need to say “Hold” and that item would not be included in the consent vote. Selectman Josh Degen and Chairman Alison Manugian indicated a ‘hold’ of the proposal to fund restoration of the WWl cannon that had been located in front of the Legion Hall on Hollis Street for a hundred years.
     This canon was presented by the US Army in 1919 in honor of Groton soldier Sergeant Laurence W. Gay of the 26th Division American Expeditionary Forces and placed in front of the Laurence W. Gay Post at Legion Hall. On July 9, 1918, by an Act of Congress, the President presented the Distinguished Service Cross posthumously to Sergeant Gay for extraordinary heroism in action while serving the Headquarters Company 101st Field Artillery north of Verdun France. After a continuous bombardment of gas shells on the observatory they were defending, Sergeant Gay evacuated all his men, but he himself, though badly gassed, continued on for six-hours until relieved. He died shortly after being evacuated, sacrificing his life to save the men under his command.
     According to Parks Commission Chairman Don Black, the request for $15,000 was to replace the wooden wheels on the cannon that had been sitting in grass and dirt since it was placed there. Once restored, the cannon will be placed on granite blocks and painted with a special paint, with the goal of restoring it for safe keeping for another 100 years.
Degen said he “had a problem placing the canon in front of a learning center (Boutwell School is across the street) where children can see guns” in front of the veterans’ building. Manugian said that her concern was to spend money to restore it and then put it outside again for the same deterioration to happen.
However, voters disagreed, and approved the $15,000 to restore the historic WWl Canon. They also approved the other six CPC recommendations including: Lost Lake/Knops Pond Restoration for $95,000; Conservation Fund for $221,000; Portrait Restoration for $11,400; Library Pocket Doors for $10,500; Hazel Grove for $9,242; WW1 Cannon Restoration for $15,000; and lastly Emergency Rental Assistance for $200,000.
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