Tag Archive | "Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter"

Petition Seeks Medal of Honor for Haerter

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Christian Haerter holding some of his late son Jordan's medals and commendations on Monday.

Christian Haerter holding some of his late son Jordan’s medals and commendations on Monday. (Photo by Michael Heller).

By Kathryn G. Menu

Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter and Marine Corporal Jonathan Yale are credited with saving the lives of over a hundred Marines and Iraqi soldiers in a 2008 attack that claimed the lives of both young men.

Five years later, over 1,600 people have signed a petition urging the White House to award both men the Medal of Honor, the highest military honor in the country, awarded for personal acts of valor above and beyond the call of duty.

On April 22, 2008, Lance Cpl. Haerter — a native of Sag Harbor — and Cpl. Yale took their guard post at the Joint Security Station Nasser in Ramadi, Iraq. Lance Cpl. Haerter was a rifleman with the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines and at the age of 19 had just arrived in Iraq for a seven-month tour of duty two days before. Cpl. Yale, 21, from Virginia, was a rifleman with the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines and was reportedly showing Haerter the ropes.

Shortly after taking their post, a blue truck loaded with 2,000 pounds of explosives began speeding through the concrete barriers towards the two Marines, who immediately responded by shooting at the vehicle, which was manned by a suicide bomber. The truck stopped short and detonated, killing both men, but their actions are credited with saving the lives of 150 Marines and Iraqi police officers.

It is for their act of valor the petition was started on December 6 by an Alexandria, Virginia resident — the identity of whom remains a mystery to even Haerter’s own parents, Christian Haerter and JoAnn Lyles.

“I actually found out about it Thursday,” said Haerter this week. At that point, the petition had just 600 signatures, but since both Haerter and Lyles began promoting the post — along with others who knew Lance Cpl. Haerter or Cpl. Yale — that number has grown rapidly. The petition aims to collect 100,000 signatures by January 5, 2014.

Lance Cpl. Haerter was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross Medal, the second highest military decoration for valor that can be awarded to a member of the United States Navy, Marine Corps or Coast Guard. He also earned a Purple Heart medal, Combat Action ribbon, Iraqi Campaign medal, Iraqi Service medal, Good Conduct medal, National Defense medal and Sea Service Deployment ribbon.

On Friday, Haerter said that while he was unaware who was pushing for his son and Cpl. Yale to receive the Medal of Honor, he has begun supporting the idea by asking others to sign the petition. That being said, Haerter added it would likely be through another avenue, for example the support of a member of Congress or military official that would initiate a formal review.

“As far as I am concerned there is no medal that is going to bring Jordan back,” said Haerter. “If he was awarded the Medal of Honor, for me that just extends his legacy because obviously a person who is the recipient of a Medal of Honor is talked about for years to come as it is such a rare honor. Anything I can do to keep him in people’s minds is a positive, but for me, I think they should all get a medal like this.”

There have been just 3,468 Medals of Honor awarded to servicemen and women since it was first created in 1861.

Lyles, who has been spreading the word about the petition through Facebook, first heard about it through social media, while checking in with Cpl. Yale’s mother, Rebecca.

“She doesn’t know who started it either,” said Lyles on Friday.

Lyles said she also reached out to Susan Keophila, who was serving in Ramadi when Lance Cpl. Haerter and Cpl. Yale were killed in the suicide bomber blast. Keophila, now retired from the Army, has sent letters and documentation calling for the Marines to be awarded the Medal of Honor to her Congressman in Virginia since she returned from Iraq, said Lyles. While Keophila also said she was not responsible for starting the petition, Lyles said she is grateful for whoever did.

“Maybe it just ensures he is remembered longer,” she said. “It would make sure his name is known much longer than our lives.”

On Friday, Congressman Tim Bishop said rarely is a review ordered through the aid of a member of Congress, but that it can be done. It is not a binding request nor is there legislation attached to it, he added.

“I have not been asked to do so by Cpl. Yale’s family or Jordan’s family, but if I am I certainly would,” said Bishop.

 

Riding to Benefit Wounded Warriors

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By David McCabe

This weekend, hundreds will once again ride their bicycles between Sag Harbor, Amagansett and Montauk to raise money for the veterans’ organization Wounded Warrior during the annual Soldier Ride The Hamptons event.

The event is being held in honor of Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter, as it has been since 2008, when the Sag Harbor native was killed while deployed in Iraq.

Participants can ride a 30 mile route or a 60 mile route. There are also two 5k walks — one that starts and ends in Sag Harbor, and another that will be held in Amagansett. The bike ride begins at 9 a.m. in Amagansett, at Ocean View Farm, and goes west to Sag Harbor before returning to the starting point. Those who are biking the longer route also start their ride in Amagansett, but continue on to Montauk Lighthouse before riding back to Ocean View Farms.

At 10:30 a.m., there will be a tribute to Haerter in Sag Harbor’s Marine Park, and at 11 a.m., the so-called Lap of Heroes will take place, where veterans ride down the village’s Main Street. As riders cross the Lance Cpl. Jordan Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge to North Haven, bagpipe players will salute the bicyclists while a vintage Navy helicopter will lower a wreath onto the bridge. Among those riding will be Marines who served with Haerter.

Haerter’s mother, JoAnn Lyles, said that those Marines have been a source of support since her son’s death.

“They constantly keep in touch with me. Marines are a true brotherhood and they show it that way,” she said. “I get Mother’s Day cards and things like that.”

Participants can register for the ride online up until 5 p.m. on Friday or they can sign up to ride on the day of the event in Amagansett starting at 7 a.m. For people ages 21 and older, the ride costs $50, and the 5k walks cost $25. The Sag Harbor walk begins in Marine Park.

All net proceeds benefit Wounded Warrior, which provides services to returning veterans that help them transition back to civilian life. When the organization was founded, it would distribute backpacks containing essential items like clothing and books to returning injured service members who had been shipped back from military medical centers without their possessions.

Soldier Ride began as a one man affair, when East Hampton bartender Chris Carney decided he wanted to do something to help returning veterans. He biked across the country in 2004, raising funds for Wounded Warrior.

The next year, he was joined for parts of his ride by other supporters and veterans. Wounded Warrior eventually officially incorporated Soldier Ride into their programming and the cross-country rides for smaller, community events.

Soldier Ride the Hamptons is not the only such event on the East End: Soldier Ride North Fork is held in honor of Lt. Joseph Theinert, a Shelter Island native who was killed in action in June, 2010.

For Wounded Warrior, Soldier Ride the Hamptons represents a chance to raise awareness of their programs and funds for their services.

For Lyles, the ride represents a chance for the community to remember her son, four years after his death.

“Just that it gets Jordan’s name mentioned again, that’s the part that’s nice for me. His story is told and it’s repeated and people might go home with that story and tell somebody else so that’s what I like about it,” she said.

Lyles said that Soldier Ride also acts as a rehabilitative event, because wounded veterans participate — providing them with a much-needed confidence boost.

“Bringing the wounded warriors up from Walter Reed lets them know that they can accomplish something,” she said. “It gets them on the road to recovery.”

Haerter & Theinert Honored by New York State As Community Prepares for Memorial Day

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(05-22-12) 300-49-519

JoAnn Lyles and Chrystyna Kestler spent Tuesday morning driving together from the East End to Albany where their sons were posthumously honored as veterans. It was a bittersweet reminder that this holiday weekend is about more than the beginning of summer and is, in fact, a time to remember those who have given their lives, however young, for the freedoms enjoyed by those of us still living.

“It was a good opportunity for us to talk and talk and talk, share stories and tears,” said Lyles on Wednesday morning.

Lyles’ son, Marine Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter, and Kestler’s son, Army First Lieutenant Joseph J. Theinert, were inducted into the New York State Senate Veterans’ Hall of Fame on Tuesday afternoon in Albany. New York State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, who nominated L.Cpl. Haerter and Lt. Theinert for the honor, and New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr., were on hand to share the moment with their families.

Of the over 60 individuals named to the Veterans’ Hall of Fame, L.Cpl. Haerter and Lt. Theinert were two of four veterans named posthumously.

“It was certainly a very special moment,” said Senator LaValle on Wednesday morning. “You could feel in the room that not only was this a special occasion, but with their mothers there, being Gold Star Mothers, people were teary eyed. Both of those young men gave the ultimate sacrifice at a very young age.”

A lifelong Sag Harbor resident, L.Cpl. Haerter, was the only child of Lyles and Christian Haerter, both of whom have since dedicated their lives to championing their son’s memory, as well as military and veterans’ causes through separate organizations — In Jordan’s Honor and Jordan’s Initiative.

A 2006 graduate of Pierson High School, L.Cpl. Haerter immediately enlisted with the Marines after graduation and became a member of the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines known as the “Walking Dead.”

Just one month into his first tour of duty in Iraq on April 22, 2008, L.Cpl. Haerter and Marine Corporal Jonathan T. Yale were killed in Ramadhi defending a checkpoint from a suicide bomber driving a large truck. Their actions saved the lives of over 33 Marines, Iraqi policemen and Iraqi civilians.

L.Cpl. Haerter was 19 years old.

L.Cpl. Haerter was honored with the Navy Cross Medal, Purple Heart Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Iraqi Campaign Medal, Iraqi Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Medal, and the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon for his service.

Lt. Theinert, a 2006 graduate of Shelter Island High School, was the son of Kestler, a Shelter Island resident, and James Theinert, a Sag Harbor resident.

Lt. Theinert accepted an ROTC commission at Valley Forge Military Academy and College and after graduation enrolled in SUNY Albany, where he was accepted into Siena College’s ROTC Mohawk Battalion and earned a Bachelors of Arts degree in history.

In March of 2010, Lieutenant Theinert was deployed to Afghanistan. Just six weeks into his deployment, on June 4, shortly after securing the rest of his platoon after undergoing hostile fire, Lieutenant Theinert was killed by an improvised explosive device in Dand District of Kandahar, Afghanistan.

He was 24 years old.

Lt. Theinert’s awards include the Army Service Ribbon, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Afghan Campaign Medal, the Purple Heart and the Combat Action Badge.

The loss of L.Cpl. Haerter and Lt. Theinert was deeply felt throughout the East End community, solemn homecomings were followed by moments of remembrance.

“The East End becomes a very special place on occasions like this because it becomes that small community where everyone rallies around the families and made sure those young men got the respect they deserved,” remembered Senator LaValle. “Both were so young, and their mothers became so close. They both had suits on in Albany, the same color blue.”

In late 2008, New York State renamed the Sag Harbor-North Haven Bridge the Lance Corporal Haerter Veterans’ Memorial Bridge. The South Ferry’s “Southern Cross,” a ferry from North Haven to Shelter Island, was renamed after Lieutenant Theinert in 2010 shortly after a stretch of Route 114 was also designated the “Lt. Joseph J. Theinert Memorial Way.”

“We feel connected,” said Lyles of Kestler, with whom she spent the day in Albany. “Even here, we have Jordan’s bridge that leads to Joe’s ferry.”

Lyles said the ceremony was an opportunity for her and Kestler to meet other veterans and share stories, while honoring their children together.

“Chris and I were talking about how it is almost easier with the loss of a child if they were in the military because there are so many more chances for remembrance,” said Lyles. “It’s not easy at these events, but at least I know to expect emotion so I can steel myself. It’s the normal days, where something happens that it is harder, like if someone sees Jordan’s picture on my desk and doesn’t know and asks me if my son is in the Marines. Those are the harder days, but I never want people to stop talking or asking about Jordan.”

“My thoughts are with both families,” said Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride on Wednesday morning. “They were both courageous young men who supported this country and I am proud of Jordan and Joe for their efforts in making this country what it is today.”

“This was bittersweet,” said Assemblyman Thiele. “What they gave for this country has been well documented and it is great that the State of New York through the State Senate is recognizing their sacrifice and the sacrifice of their families. It is a great honor, but at the same time it is a reminder of their loss.”

Thiele will join Gilbride, as well as Lyles and Christian Haerter, countless veterans and government officials on Memorial Day to honor the veterans of Sag Harbor and beyond.

The parade will begin at 9 a.m. at the World War I monument at Otter Pond, continue down Main Street to Bay Street’s Marine Park and onto to the Chelberg and Battle American Legion Post 388.

“Something I have always been proud of is walking in many Memorial Day parades, either in uniform as a former Sag Harbor Fire Department chief or in a suit as mayor because I want to honor those who have come home,” said Mayor Gilbride. “It is a humbling day for someone like me because I can go to any one of the memorials and see my own family’s names and recognize the names of other residents from Sag Harbor that still have family here today. All I can say, is thank you.”

Above: New York State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle presents JoAnn Lyles with her son’s plaque inducting him posthumously into the New York State Senate Veterans’ Hall of Fame.

Haerter & Theinert to be Inducted into Veterans Hall of Fame Today

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Marine Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter, from Sag Harbor (above) and Army 1st Lieutenant Joseph J. Theinert, from Shelter Island, will be inducted into the New York State Senate Veterans’ Hall of Fame on Tuesday, May 22.

As the East End readies for Memorial Day weekend, there was no truer reminder that this holiday has less to do with hot dogs and house rentals and more do with honoring those who have fallen in service to the United States than what will occur Tuesday in Albany. There, family, friends and government leaders will gather in honor of two veterans from the East End who gave their lives in battle — Sag Harbor’s own Marine Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter and Army 1st Lieutenant Joseph J. Theinert from Shelter Island.

Both men will posthumously inducted into the New York State Senate’s Veterans’ Hall of Fame on Tuesday, May 22. They were nominated for the honor by New York State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle.

“Joe Theinert and Jordan Haerter are true heroes who gave their lives to protecting the freedoms we treasure,” said LaValle in a statement released last week. “They should be recognized and commended by our State and community. The New York State Veterans’ Hall of Fame is a tribute to these two fine young men that demonstrates our respect and gratitude for their patriotism and sacrifice.”

Army 1st Lieutenant Theinert was deployed to Afghanistan at the age of 24. Approximately six weeks into his deployment, he was killed in action on June 4, 2010 while on patrol in the Dand District in Kandahar was investigating an improvised explosive device, which detonated. No other members of Army 1st Lieutenant Theinert’s platoon were killed or injured.

Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter, who entered the Marine Corps directly out of high school, was a Platoon High Shooter in his Alpha Company platoon. On April 22, Lance Corporal Haerter was killed in action in Ramadi, Iraq. Jordan, a member of the proud and storied 1st Battalion, 9th Marines also known as ‘The Walking Dead’, and fellow marine, CPL Jonathan T. Yale, a rifleman with 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, were standing guard at an entry control point when a large truck careened off track and ignored calls to halt. Haerter and Yale opened fire to protect the checkpoint and were killed by the resulting 2,000-pound blast that came from the rigged vehicle.

Their actions saved scores of servicemen and women from both the United States and Iraq.

LCPL Jordan Haerter’s military awards include the Navy Cross Medal, Purple Heart Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Iraqi Campaign Medal, Iraqi Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Medal, and the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.


JoAnn Lyles

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web convo Lyles

The mother of the late Marine Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter and member of the organizing committee for “Solider Ride The Hamptons” talks about next weekend’s Solider Ride event, staying in touch with her son’s battalion and how she remembers her son, who was killed in combat two-and-a-half-years ago at the age of 19 defending a checkpoint in Ramadi, Iraq.

The last three years “Solider Ride The Hamptons” has dedicated its summer cycling and walk/run event to your late son Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter. What drew you to become an active member of the organization?

The first invited me after Jordan was killed. That first year was very hard. Jordan’s birthday is July 30 so it was a lot to take in, but it has grown into a very good thing for me to celebrate. It is a great organization and when Jordan died it was one of those things I could do to keep busy, to stay involved. It is something that helps me get through and the organization does so very much for the veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, which is important to me.

For the second year, the Soldier Ride event will include a tribute to your son in your hometown of Sag Harbor. Will the event differ much this year from last year’s event?

This year, like last year, there will be a tribute to Jordan at the base of the bridge [named the Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge in honor of the fallen Marine], but we will also remember Army First Lieutenant Joseph Theinert [who was killed in Afghanistan on June 4 at the age of 24], whose family is from Sag Harbor and Shelter Island so it will be even more poignant. We did talk about having the ride through Shelter Island and over the ferry, but it didn’t work out for this year. One year, we may make that jump though.

Will you ride in next weekend’s event?

I will be a walker. Some day, I think I will jump on a bike. I think a lot of people are realizing the 30-mile bike route is very doable.

Chris Kestler [Theinert’s mother] and her husband will walk with me and I think that is nice. It is nice our families can come to this event and give support to each other.

Soldier Ride has evolved into an organization that not only provides financial support for the Wounded Warrior organization, but is also a rehabilitative event nationwide for wounded soldiers returning from combat overseas. Have you had a chance to meet some of the riders?

I have. We have a VIP breakfast for the Wounded Warrior organization and we get to sit down and talk with a lot of the servicemen and women then. I think though, it is the most beneficial for the people who actually ride in the event. They get to ride side-by-side and see all the nice things that people do, standing on the side of the road with signs supporting the troops. I think that experience really captures the event.

As an organizer, have you found a lot of support from village residents for the Solider Ride cause?

We are trying to involve Sag Harbor more. “In Jordan’s Honor,” the memorial fund I have established in his name will have an award this year for the “Most Patriotic Display” and a “Shows the Most Spirit” award in Sag Harbor and we really want to get the word out on that. What we are hoping is that people on the route will decorate their houses, wear red, white and blue, make sure their flags are up, make thank you signs for the wounded warriors and line Main Street, Sag Harbor and the bridge. The winners will be announced in The Sag Harbor Express. We really hope the business community gets involved, hands out flags, and gets people on the streets. We are also going to put notices on Long Beach so the beachgoers will come up the street and cheer on the riders at the right time.

What are some of the other things you are hoping In Jordan’s Honor will be able to accomplish in the near term?

We are trying to establish a Purple Heart Trail locally. It’s a national organization that marks certain highways and parklands to recognize veterans. We are working with Tom Ronayne, director of the Suffolk County Veterans Service Agency. Next week we are hoping to take a tour of different areas and will start out in the Sag Harbor area.

Last year, members of the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines – Jordan’s division – were able to attend Soldier Ride in honor of your son. Will any members of the battalion be at this year’s event?

Not many, I think first because they are still deployed and will not be back until early August. A few of them did not deploy and one of them who lost his hearing in the blast that killed Jordan will be here with his wife.

Do you keep in touch with members of Jordan’s battalion?

Yes. Facebook helps. We are able to chat. This deployment helps because they are on a ship and have more access to computers. I definitely keep in touch with all of them. It helps.

Will Solider Ride include the Honor Our Heroes ride down Main Street, Sag Harbor again?

Yes. After the tribute to Jordan, Chris [Carney, one of the founders of Soldier Ride] will lead a pack of wounded warrior riders down Main Street at noon. That is really when we want the business owners to try and win our contest and pass out flags, get people on the streets. Last year, the walk was in Sag Harbor at noon, but it was too hot, so we will start the walk at 9 a.m. and at noon walkers from Amagansett and Sag Harbor can come together on Long Wharf for the tribute to Jordan.

As a mother, I imagine Jordan is always with you. How do you celebrate him daily? Are there little moments you still keep for the two of you?

I go past his grave every day on the way to work and it feels good there. We have a bench and some chimes and it is a nice place to sit where I can tell him what is happening. It is really important to me to keep up with his friends, and his fellow Marines.

I was chatting with one of the Marines, and they can’t always tell you where they are for security purposes. And he said, ‘I’ll give you a hint.’ They all call him Haerter and he said, ‘it’s Haerter’s first name.’ I said, I think I know where that is.

Soldier Ride The Hamptons will host early registration Saturday and Sunday at Windmill Beach in Sag Harbor from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on The Green in Amagansett from noon to 6 p.m. Registration is also available at www.soldierridethehamptons.com. The event will be held on Saturday, July 24 starting at 8 a.m. with a light breakfast at Oceanview Farm in Amagansett and Long Wharf in Sag Harbor. Participants can choose between a 30 or 60 mile bike route or one of two four mile walk/runs. The tribute to Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter will begin at 11:30 a.m. at Long Wharf in Sag Harbor.

The cost is $50 for the bike ride; $25 for riders under 21; $75 the day of the event and $25 for the walk/run. For more information and for routes, visit www.soldierridethehamptons.com or call 903-1701.


Bridge to be Named for Fallen Marine Next Month

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Members of the First Battalion Ninth Marine Regiment are returning to United States soil this week following their deployment to Iraq, and in just one month’s time will travel to Sag Harbor to pay tribute to one of their fallen brothers.

This week, the family of Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter announced a formal dedication and unveiling of a public memorial at the foot of the Sag Harbor-North Haven Bridge will be held on Saturday, November 15. The bridge, following state approval, will also officially be renamed in honor of Haerter and veterans across the country.

Lance Cpl. Haerter, a 2006 Pierson High School graduate, was killed outside the city of Ramadhi in Iraq in April. A U.S. Marine, Haerter had just reached the one-month mark of his first tour when a suicide bomber drove into the checkpoint he was guarding and detonated. His actions and sacrifice, said military officials, saved over 30 marines that day, as well as over 50 Iraqi police.

Following Haerter’s death, which rocked the Sag Harbor community, East End residents and government leaders rallied in support of the construction of a memorial granite obelisk to honor the young marine. The monument will be placed on the waterfront, next to Windmill Beach, on land donated by the Village of Sag Harbor.

In May, a bill co-sponsored by Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. and State Senator Ken LaValle passed, allowing the Sag Harbor-North Haven Bridge to be renamed “The Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge,” honoring both Haerter and veterans before him.

Members of Haerter’s battalion, some of who were in Ramadi with Haerter the day he was killed, will join the family, community and government leaders on November 15. According to Haerter’s father, Christian, the dedication was planned specifically to fall on a day those men could attend and the proximity to Veteran’s Day, on November 11, is purely coincidental.

“It just worked out this way,” he said on Wednesday. “We also didn’t feel we wanted to steal any thunder from the veterans, even though Jordan is a veteran now. Veteran’s Day is their day, and we really wanted this to be separate. It ultimately had to do with making sure it was a day the battalion could be there.”

On Tuesday, October 14, the Sag Harbor Board of Trustees gave its approval for the ceremony, which is expected to include guest speakers and a fly by, weather permitting.

Sag Harbor Cinema

In other community related news coming out of the Sag Harbor Board of Trustees on Tuesday night, the board passed a resolution directing village clerk Sandra Schroeder to contact Sag Harbor Cinema owner Gerald Mallow and inform him the board will hold a public hearing on granting the cinema building’s façade historic landmark status.

In August, the village’s historic preservation and architectural review board passed a resolution asking the board of trustees to give the façade, already located in Sag Harbor’s historic district, landmark designation. Just prior to this request, Mallow placed the cinema on the real estate market, in one advertisement seeking as much as $12 million for the Main Street, Sag Harbor locale.

On Tuesday, mayor Greg Ferraris said his only concern was ensuring the designation would not negatively impact the owner of the building.

Sag Harbor Village attorney Fred W. Thiele, Jr. reminded Ferraris that as a building in the historic district, the cinema was already subject to much of the same regulation as it would be as a historic landmark. Without ARB approval, persons are prohibited from altering any façade of a historic building, or any building in the historic district for that matter, and must also seek board approval for any construction, reconstruction, demolition, or to move the structure.

The Board of Trustees will hold a public hearing on the designation at its next meeting, on Wednesday, November 12 at 6 p.m.