Soon after the city of Tiffin received a steel beam from the World Trade Center last year, Tiffin firefighter Chris Hafley began looking for a way to create a memorial to feature the piece of American history that weighs in at more than 6,000 pounds.
In December, a committee met for the first time and began collectively researching a way to create a memorial that would not only feature the beam, but would be dedicated to the firefighters, police officers and others who were killed or affected during the terror attacks Sept. 11, 2001.
Now, the committee is gearing to erect the Tiffin Police and Fire All Patriots Memorial in time for Patriots' Day this year.
"From the time we received the beam in Tiffin in August, I started working with trying to get people around," said Hafley, the committee chairman. "We then came up with a plan to set up a time frame that the committee wanted to complete the project, which is Sept 11, 2012."
The committee, made of Tiffin firefighters, police officers and community members, met several times and, after working closely with Cleveland designer Mike Work, plans for a memorial were rendered.
"Mike Work and I had been talking since we acquired the beam," Hafley said.
The committee received drawings of the final rendition Monday, he said.
The memorial - named the Tiffin Police and Fire All Patriots Memorial - is to be located at the former Firestone property on North Washington Street, a space Hafley estimates to be about 16,200 square feet.
The land was originally in the hands of the Seneca Industrial and Economic Development Corp., but after the Tiffin Police and Fire All Patriots Memorial committee approached the corporation with interest in acquiring it, the two decided to work together.
Donations will fund the project, which is estimated to cost $125,000, Hafley said.
The steel beam, measuring 17 feet long and 6,268 pounds, will sit on a pentagon granite wall at the riverside property.
The granite is to be engraved with "Never Forget" to represent Sept. 11, 2001, Hafley said.
"The pentagon is there to represent the Pentagon on Sept. 11, and the beam will be sitting on the wall at a 9.11-degree angle," he said.
Plans also include having the names of Tiffin firefighters and police officers who died on duty or during service engraved on the memorial.
Hafley said a mound of dirt representing Flight 93 that crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pa., Sept. 11, 2001, also will be part of the site.
"At the actual crash sight, a mound of dirt is still there," Hafley said.
A walkway coming off of North Washington Street will be made of gray pavers and three flag poles that will include the American flag, the National Fallen Firefighters flag and the National Fallen Police Officers flag, are to face the east.
"The flag pole is arranged in such a way that at 8:46 a.m., the time when a plane struck the first tower, the American flag will cast a shadow on one end of the beam," Hafley said.
A red maple tree, representative of the one red maple tree that lived through the Sept. 11 twin tower collapses, will be planted nearby.
"It really pulls your eye to the memorial site," he said. "That stays red all year round."
Concrete seating also is to be available at the site for people to come in and reflect.
"This is something where people would want to go and sit and relax," he said.
Hafley said the whole memorial will be in gray tones, a decision he said was based on what he saw in New York.
Everything, he said, serves a purpose.
"There was a lot of thought put into the design work. It's not just a piece of granite with a steel beam sitting on it," he said. "We're trying to tie in everything that happened that day and this idea really tied everything in that we wanted to represent in the memorial. We wanted to represent Tiffin firefighters, Tiffin police and Sept. 11."
Hafley said the committee hopes to have the project completed by Sept. 11 of this year, just in time for a Patriots' Day ceremony. So far, a construction company has not been chosen to erect the memorial.
Interim Tiffin Police Chief Fred Stevens, who served in Afghanistan, said he is looking forward to the unveiling of the memorial.
He added the location couldn't be better because of other war monuments nearby on Frost Parkway.
"I absolutely think it's a positive thing for the community. I think we should never forget what happened that day, and a tribute would be a perfect symbol in our community to not forget that," he said. "It's just amazing and people, I think, will be amazed."
Tiffin Fire Chief Bill Ennis agreed.
"I think it's going to be great addition to the community and it allows our community to never forget what happened on that day," he said. "Chris Hafley is the one who instigated it and found information out. He spear-headed the idea to get the steel beam down here."
Organizations or groups interested in a presentation about the project can contact Hafley at (567) 207-7312. The committee also can be found on Facebook at All Patriots Memorial.