Local non-profit spruces up memorial for fallen KCFD firefighters

By Paul Thompson

Northeast News

August 1, 2016

KANSAS CITY, Missouri – The memorial for fallen KCFD firefighters John Mesh and Larry Leggio, located in the lot next to Snyder’s Supermarket (2620 Independence), received a facelift on Wednesday, August 31, thanks to area non-profit organization Taking it to the Streets.

Organization founder Scott Lamaster joined volunteer Kerry Fulton in installing fencing, mulch, a brick border, and a new bench at the memorial site, which had been overcome by weeds and become a target for vandals.

“We decided to come out today and re-do it,” said Lamaster. “Hopefully the families can have some pride in what’s here. Hopefully it will be maintained now, and if not, we’ll come back and maintain it.”

Lamaster holds a special place in his heart for the memorial: he and volunteers from his organization stayed at the scene for 13 days following the fire that took the lives of Leggio and Mesh. While there, Taking it to the Streets provided food, water, and bathrooms to workers who were helping to clean up the site. For the first two days following the fire, the organization was on hand 24 hours a day.

“We served 2,200 meals, went through about 10,000 bottles of water, 3,500 bottles of Gatorade, about 5,000 protein snack bars,” said Lamaster. “It was just about serving them through that tragic time; that’s what we do.”

memorial

An image of the memorial after Taking it to the Streets volunteers removed weeds from the site, but before they built it’s new confines. Photo by Scott Lamaster

So when Lamaster drove by the site last week, only to find the memorial for the fallen firefighters lost amidst a sea of weeds, he felt compelled to do something about it. He called Fulton, and the pair agreed to clean up the lot and re-build the memorial to properly honor the KCFD firefighters.

“We had to cut them down with a chainsaw,” said Lamaster of the weeds. “The stalks on some of those weeds were three inches thick.”

Employees of Snyder’s Supermarket appreciated the hard work being done by Taking it to the Streets to ensure that the memorial for Mesh and Leggio received the respect that it deserves.

“I think it’s a really nice gesture. They’ve done a nice job, and it shows a lot of respect to the families, the other firefighters, and the response services,” said Snyder’s employee Taryn Harbin. “It shows that some of the people in the city do care.”

While Lamaster and Fulton were willing to talk to the Northeast News for this story, they declined to have their pictures taken. The volunteers preferred to keep the attention on the Mesh, Leggio, and their families, who endured a tragic loss during the fire last fall.

“We just don’t want the focus to be turned away from what is really important; and that’s to give back honor and respect to these two families,” said Lamaster. “This is just one way that we can be a part of doing that.”

To learn more about Lamaster’s organization, visit the Taking it to the Streets Facebook page.

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