BELLEVUE — A Bellevue mother is leading a campaign to build a utilitarian memorial, a site that honors two dead boys while providing life-sustaining water.
Peg Hayes hopes to raise money for a heavy-duty public water fountain to be installed along Bellevue’s Mississippi Riverwalk. It will have three drinking spouts of varying heights for adults, children and pets. It will also have a concrete plaque with photos of her son, Michael Hayes, and his friend, Brian Hoff, who were killed on a rainy October evening in 1986 near St. Catherine.
“They were driving back to the Bellevue High School homecoming party after looking for their dates, when they were broadsided,” Hayes said.
Both teens had been members of Boy Scout Explorer Post 357. The year after their deaths, Hayes was asked to take over as the group’s leader. The scouts wanted to do something to honor their deceased friends, and a city official suggested installing a water fountain in a small city park on Bellevue’s south side.
“The boys ran with the idea and raised more than $2,000 to build it,” Hayes said.
Over the past 25 years, the memorial and fountain have been vandalized and fallen into disrepair. Now the corner site is in the path of large trucks that deliver to two businesses. City officials contacted Hayes as the former leader of the now-defunct scout troop, suggesting the memorial be moved and the fountain replaced on a more public site on the riverwalk.
The maintenance-free, solid steel fountain won’t be cheap, about $6,000, but the city will run water lines to it, and two volunteers will move the concrete plaque for free. It will be sited on a short loop off the main riverwalk that will be built with paver bricks left over from other city projects.
Hayes has started fundraising in earnest with help from her husband, Mike, and numerous friends and family members. At Bellevue’s recent Fishtival celebration, she sold pieces of dozens of homemade pies donated to the campaign and raised $1,000. She is organizing a full block of garage sales in the 700 block of South Riverview Street that will run during the town’s fall garage sale day on Saturday, Sept. 7.
The memorial fountain will probably be completed next spring.
“I hope it is used every day. I know young children will be running to it first thing,” she said.