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Middletown military museum receives state funding for veterans park

MIDDLETOWN -- The State Bond Commission on Wednesday approved a $300,000 allocation to the Greater Middletown Military Museum to build a permanent location at Veterans Memorial Park.

The money will allow the museum to move from its temporary site on the property of the former St. Sebastian School, which will become the new Middletown Senior Center. The museum plans to purchase a prefabricated building from ModSpace, a local company, for its new home at the veterans park.

State Sen. Paul Doyle met with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to seek state funding for the relocation of the museum building, which will be near a planned Connecticut Trees of Honor memorial honoring state soldiers who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001.

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"It's a great testament to the hard work of [museum President Ron Organek and American Legion Post 75 Commander Philip Cacciola] and other veterans leaders in Middletown to finally have their home here," Doyle said.

The Greater Middletown Military Museum has a collection of uniforms, memorabilia, documents and a library of nearly 1,000 books on military history, Organek said.

"They have formed an idea that I think is groundbreaking in a lot of ways," said Mayor Daniel Drew. "It's going to create a historical archive that people can go to and learn about the conflicts local people have served in."

Doyle said the state money is not tied in any way to the city's November referendum that seeks voter approval for a $4.8 million renovation of Eckersley Hall for the new senior center. The senior center building committee included the museum cost in its proposal, but with the state money the city will need to spend less to complete the project, officials said.

Even if voters do not approve the referendum, the museum will be relocated to Veterans Memorial Park.

Drew said the military musem and the Connecticut Trees of Honor memorial will make the park "a living memorial to all of our veterans."

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