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Havre de Grace honors service members with ‘Veteran parking only’ spaces

Havre de Grace Mayor William T. Martin holds one of the five signs that have been installed around the city designating parking spots for veterans only. Martin displayed this sign during the Nov. 4 City Council meeting.
Havre de Grace Mayor William T. Martin holds one of the five signs that have been installed around the city designating parking spots for veterans only. Martin displayed this sign during the Nov. 4 City Council meeting. (David Anderson/The Aegis / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Five signs designating parking spaces for “Veteran parking only” have been installed around the City of Havre de Grace, a way for city officials and citizens to thank former members of the nation’s military for their service.

The veterans’ parking signs have been installed along thoroughfares such as St. John Street and Union Avenue, as well as near the entrances to Concord Point and Tydings Parks, according to a city news release.

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Five of the eight signs ordered, at a cost of $360, are installed, but city leaders don’t plan to install the remaining three for the time being, according to Adam Rybczynski, marketing strategist for Havre de Grace.

Officials said the signs are one of the many ways Havre de Grace works to show its appreciation for veterans, such as the recent Veterans Day parade, improvements to its war memorial in Tydings Park, the development of Veterans Park along Concord Street and the installation of the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument in Concord Point Park in 2018.

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“You can never say, ‘thank you’ in enough ways ... we’re doing everything we can to stand out in that way and thank people for their service,” Mayor William T. Martin said during Monday’s City Council meeting.

The signs, which were installed around Veterans Day last month, were designed by Patrick Sypolt, director of administration for the city. They include the emblems of the Air Force, Army, the Army National Guard, Coast Guard, Marine Corps and the Navy.

City authorities will not check to ensure actual veterans are using the designated parking spots — Martin said it is “on the honor system.”

“The city will not be issuing citations; we’re not asking for anybody’s DD-214 discharge papers,” the mayor said. “It’s something to say, ‘thanks.’”

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Reach out for the holidays

Councilman David Martin — who is not related to the mayor — encouraged residents to remember veterans, as well as those who have not served in the military, who are dealing with emotional trauma during and after the holiday season.

“They deserve our recognition, and during the holiday season, it’s time to give them thanks for everything they do,” he said of veterans. “This is the land of the free because of the brave, so we want to thank everyone for that.”

Veterans dealing with mental health crises can call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and press 1 to be connected to a trained responder with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. People in need also can send a text message to 838255 or connect with a responder via online chat. More information is online at https://www.veteranscrisisline.net.

Martin encouraged people to “reach out, don’t let anybody go,” and not be afraid to provide the Veterans Crisis Line information to a veteran in need of support.

He also noted that suicides in the wider community tend to increase around the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, so he urged local residents to contact Harford County’s Crisis Hotline at 1-800-NEXT-STEP (639-8783) or 410-874-0711 if they are experiencing a mental health crisis.

“Don’t be afraid to reach out and let somebody know that you care, and give them this information,” Martin said.

Martin also encourages people to send holiday cards to veterans receiving treatment in local medical facilities. Cards can be sent to patients at the Perry Point VA Medical Center in Perryville before Dec. 18. Martin provided a mailing address in an email Wednesday.

Perry Point VA Medical Center

Voluntary Services

Building 15H, Room 214, PP135VS

Perry Point, MD 21902

The messages on the card should include “Dear Veteran,” as well as suggested phrases such as “thank you for your service” or “wishing you a happy holiday.”

Police fundraising

The Havre de Grace Police Department, in its first year participating in the No-Shave November campaign, raised $3,100 “just by not shaving for a month,” Capt. Joseph Alton reported.

No-Shave November is an annual campaign through which participants raise money for cancer awareness and research by not shaving during the month of November. More information is online at no-shave.org.

The Havre de Grace Police are donating their proceeds for prostate cancer research in honor of Council President David Glenn, Alton said. Glenn underwent surgery for prostate cancer in March and has since returned to his duties as an elected official and youth baseball coach.

The police department raised money through the Grow & Give, a fundraising campaign of ZERO-The End of Prostate Cancer, according to the department’s Facebook page. The Alexandria, Virginia-based nonprofit ZERO organization serves men battling prostate cancer, as well as their families, through education, case management, financial assistance, even testing to promote early detection, all toward the goal of zero deaths from prostate cancer, according to ZERO’s website. More information is available at zerocancer.org.

Havre de Grace Police also are seeking support for their next fundraising initiative, a “joint polar bear plunge” team with Havre de Grace-based radio station WXCY-FM, Alton said. The proceeds will benefit Special Olympics Maryland. Visit the police department’s Facebook page or the fundraising page, support.somd.org/fundraiser/2523581, for more information.

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