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Mural with a message

Mural with a message

What began as a scholarship opportunity for a Marshalltown High School senior has grown into a far-reaching community-wide art project that will enhance the 13th Street District and more importantly, honor veterans and members of the military.

Work is under way on the building at the southwest corner of 13th and Summit streets. There, primer paint has been applied to the north side of the building in preparation for a veteran-themed mural that will be designed and painted in the next several weeks.

The project is being coordinated by Beau Ragland of Marshalltown, who was originally looking for a project to work on as part of a scholarship requirement.

“Originally, I was applying for the Herbert Hoover Uncommon Student Award Scholarship … you just do a project over the summer and then a presentation in October about your project,” he said.

“So I began brainstorming ideas for the project, and then was thinking that my parents has just bought this building, and given how close it was to the [Iowa] Veterans Home, that it would be a great spot to do something for the community.”

Indeed, the building recently purchased by Beau’s parents, Craig and Cynthia Ragland, is due south of the IVH facility’s entrance.

“I know the 13th Street area has been going through a lot of renovations and revitalization, so I thought it would be a good project to further enrich the area,” Beau said.

So with the help of family and friends, as well as donated primer and a paint sprayer from local retailer Strand’s, Beau has already prepped the north side of the building with primer.

This weekend and over the next several days, the next phase of the project gets under way as Beau and artist Kamar Essex, who was hired to design the mural, will begin outlining the artwork.

Once the outline is finished, Beau will begin recruiting friends, family, community members and hopefully some veterans to help with the painting.

“I hope this will be something that will help bring the community together,” Beau said.

The mural, he said, not only fulfills a scholarship requirement, but will serve as his Eagle Scout project. More importantly, it’s another piece to the 13th Street District’s renovation efforts and the final product will serve as a reminder to those driving by the building of the service and sacrifices of the men and women in the military.

Beau’s facilitation of this project was sparked years ago when he was a student at Franklin Elementary.

“I remember when I attended Franklin, and every month, going over to the Veterans Home and talking with the veterans … I always thought that was a cool experience,” he said.

In recent years, Beau has been active in a number of leadership activities, including this summer when he was elected lieutenant governor at this year’s American Legion Boys State.

That opportunity and the chance to honor members of the military and veterans seems to go hand-in-hand, he said.

“I think these experiences I’ve had helps me in being a leader in this project, to organize things and create things that will leave a lasting impact on the community,” he said.

Beau is hopeful that the mural can be wrapped up by the end of the month, weather permitting.

And after that, he hopes to host some sort of unveiling ceremony for the community to attend.

Along with Strand’s, other community organizations have learned about Beau’s project and they have given him provided him with “a large amount of support” including the 13th Street District Board, the Marshalltown Public Arts Committee, the Marshalltown Development Foundation and the Marshalltown Convention and Visitors Bureau.

In the end, Beau Ragland believes the mural will represent a thank you of sorts to the men and women who have given so much to the country.

“I just want to make sure everyone in the community appreciates our veterans.”