Doyle Wallace said it is not uncommon to see people checking out the Bald Knob veterans mural and memorial wall, looking for the names of those from the town who have served in the military.
“You don’t have to drive by there many times before you see someone there,” said Wallace, who is Bald Knob’s mayor and the president of the Bald Knob Veterans Committee.
The mural was completed several years ago, and the memorial wall followed about a year later, but the building the mural is painted on was not owned by the veterans committee.
In order to serve the community better and preserve the mural and memorial wall, the Bald Knob Veterans Committee has purchased the space at the end of the building and is working to establish the Bald Knob Veterans Museum.
“We had the mural and the name wall up, but we really had no security for either because we did not actually own the property,” said Alton Pollard, secretary and treasurer of the Bald Knob Veterans Committee. “That’s the reason the building came about. We needed a place to meet, and that’s where the museum idea came in.”
While the mural on the side of the building at 3014 Highway Ave. N. is eye-catching and well-maintained, the space behind the mural is in need of a lot of work.
Wallace said the veterans bought the room from John Fisher, the barber next door, and renovations have begun on the space. The building was constructed in the early 1950s and was initially used as an office building for a lumber company, but the structure has changed purposes many times since then.
“A lot of people have been in that particular room, and it was at its very worst when we took it,” he said. “We’re having to replace the roof and the ceiling and the walls and the floors. We’re having to just build a place inside those walls.”
The veterans committee holds several fundraisers throughout the year, including a pig roast held the weekend of Veterans Day in November. Those fundraisers and other donations are used to fund the mural, memorial wall and museum.
“That’s the only way we have to be able to sustain ourselves and the wall,” Pollard said.
The Bald Knob Veterans Committee has also set its affairs so that if it were to dissolve or default at any point, the space would always belong to area veterans.
“It would have to be dispersed to a like-type organization if it were to change,” Pollard said, “We spent a lot of time getting it to that point for that reason — so that it would always belong to the local veterans.”
The veterans committee plans to have the museum space operational by November. At that time, artifacts and other display items on loan from people in the community will be rotated in and out of the exhibit space.
“We understand from other places that once you have something like this, that stuff starts coming in,” Wallace said. “Everybody’s grandpa has something for the museum.”
The museum will also have an alphabetical list for locating names on the memorial wall. The wall currently has more than 500 names of veterans who lived in the Bald Knob School District for at least five years at any point in their lives, who were in active duty in the military and who were honorably discharged from their service. The veterans committee puts names on the wall as they come in, making it impossible to organize them alphabetically on the wall itself.
As the museum continues to take shape, the veterans committee will accept monetary donations and utilize volunteers for the remodeling effort. Interested volunteers and donors may contact Wallace at (501) 230-0822.
Staff writer Angela Spencer can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or firstname.lastname@example.org.