Time to start charging the free thinkers and the offended with the theft of oxygen.
A professionally designed and installed memorial honoring a Sun Prairie woman killed by a drunken driver must be removed because an anonymous resident complained about it, the state said.
Department of Transportation guidelines say that if even one person complains about a roadside memorial, it must go.
The lead organizer of the memorial to Maureen Mengelt said he was made aware of the rule by a DOT official before embarking on the effort but never dreamed anyone would actually complain.
“We tried to put up the most respectful, beautiful memorial we could, and now one person gets to anonymously complain and all of those good intentions mean nothing? It’s a terrible rule,” said Matt Glowacki of Sun Prairie.
The elevated bronze plaque is anchored to a concrete pad. It is probably at least 20 feet from the road and does not pose a driving hazard, Glowacki said. The Sun Prairie City Council approved its installation following a community fundraising effort that collected about $2,800.
Mengelt, 52, a mother of three who was heavily involved in school and community events, was out for an afternoon run in Sun Prairie on April 7, 2013, when she was struck and killed by Bruce Burnside, a Lutheran bishop at the time. His blood alcohol level was 0.128 percent. The legal limit for driving in Wisconsin is 0.08 percent.[...]
One likely site is Orfan Community Park, Oppenheimer said. An annual 5K run in Mengelt’s honor is now held there.
Proceeds from that race benefit the Maureen Mengelt Memorial Fund, which has raised more than $90,000 in 18 months, said Kevin Mengelt, the victim’s husband. The largest chunk, $37,200, was donated toward the construction of the Sun Prairie Ice Arena. Other money has funded high school soccer shelters and music camp scholarships, among other things.
Such generosity and community spirit is one reason Glowacki said he got involved in the effort. He did not know the Mengelt family but approached Kevin Mengelt about a memorial after becoming increasingly impressed with everything he learned about Maureen Mengelt.
The thought of having to move the memorial far from the crash site gets Glowacki pretty steamed.
“Context is at least part of the story,” he said. “You don’t put a Pearl Harbor memorial in the middle of Afghanistan.”
Kevin Mengelt said he has nothing but high praise for everyone who worked so hard to install the memorial. “I’m frustrated someone would complain,” he said. “It just seems mean-spirited.”
He said he stops by the memorial on his daily runs and touches it.