Eveleth, Minn. — (AP) - Plans for a site memorializing Sen. Paul Wellstone and seven other people were unveiled Tuesday in woods not far from the site where their plane went down nearly two years ago.
"This is a place where we can remember Sen. Wellstone, his family and friends," said Lisa Pattni, who was Wellstone's northern state coordinator and was waiting at the Eveleth-Virginia Municipal Airport for him that day.
The project, expected to cost $250,000, will include a gathering area, a legacy trail, a commemorative circle and an interpretive site that looks toward the crash area 2,000 feet away.
St. Louis County donated land and Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. is donating some materials, including stone and aggregate. Funds are expected to be raised by a committee of Wellstone friends and admirers.
Wellstone was bound for nearby Virginia to attend the funeral of state Rep. Tom Rukavina's father on Oct. 25, 2002, when the small plane he was in went down. His wife, Sheila, their daughter Marcia Markuson, staffers Tom Lapic, Mary McEvoy and Will McLaughlin all died in the crash, along with pilots Richard Conry and Michael Guess.
Members of Wellstone Action, which is organizing the memorial, joined about 60 people for Tuesday's ceremony, held under steely, drizzly skies not much different than on the day of the plane crash.
"Northeast Minnesota was a second home to Paul and Sheila," said Connie Lewis of Wellstone Action. The Wellstones loved the beauty, the life, and "most of all the people."
The historic site is to include an inscription on polished stone from LTV Mining of Hoyt Lakes, along with an eagle and a poem by Ojibwe poet LeAnn Littlewolf.
Dave Foster, director of United Steelworkers District 11, talked of the many times Wellstone worked with Steelworkers.
"Paul Wellstone did have a special relationship with the Iron Range and he had a special relationship with organized labor," Foster said. "I think the labor movement was a better movvement because of Paul."
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)