City's commemorative coin makes debut

By Thomas Wilson
STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com

   A bronze coin embossed with the city seal and commemorating the Veterans War Memorial is now available for purchase by coin collectors and Elizabethtonians looking for a piece of local history.
   "We thought that would be a great thing for the city of Elizabethton -- to have its own coin with the city seal," said Brad Moffitt, city director of finance. "The whole plan is contingent on how the public likes it."
   Moffitt said the idea surfaced when he and City Manager Charles Stahl toured several military facilities last year to learn more about the Emergency Shelter Grant Program. Several U.S. Army battalions have their own distinct coins featuring the battalion's crest.
   The city got in touch with the Military Service Company that produces commemorative coins and submitted a prototype design for production. The Veterans War Memorial Committee voted to fund the purchase of the commemorate coins for use at a fundraiser for the memorial's construction and maintenance, Moffitt said.
   The company has produced 1,000 bronze coins embossed with the city's seal on the front and a rendition of the Veterans War Memorial in downtown Elizabethton on the back. The city seal features three Elizabethton icons: the Veterans Monument, the Overmountain Men Monument at Sycamore Shoals State Park, and the Covered Bridge.
   A centerpiece of the coin is the year 1799 -- the year of the city's founding. The coins may bear a special significance for collectors since the city seal is surrounded by red striping instead of the planned orange. Another 1,000 coins with the orange coloring have been ordered.
   The coin will be on display this Saturday at the "Operation Yellow Ribbon" ceremony at the Veterans War Memorial in downtown Elizabethton. The ceremony will honor the 776th Maintenance Company and 730th Quartermaster Supply Company National Guard units. Based in Elizabethton with a detachment in Mountain City, the 156 members of the 776th were activated in December. The unit departed Elizabethton to Fort Campbell, Ky., on Jan. 30. The 730th is based in Gray, but is also represented by Carter County residents.
   "This is our way of trying to do something, so people who want to support it can do so on a voluntary basis," said Moffitt.
   A second coin featuring the crest of the 776th Maintenance Company was also being considered as the second commemorative coin. That coin is tentatively designed to include the activation dates for Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm and Operation Enduring Freedom. The 776th commemorative coin would also feature a yellow ribbon adorned around the city seal.
   Moffitt said he had also heard strong interest from Gulf War veterans in buying the 776th commemorative coin. He also said the city was also exploring the idea of crafting "community pride" coins as a funding mechanism for other city government associations that avoided using tax dollars.
   "The Elizabethton Twins need some things such as lighting and a better public address system," Moffitt said. "Also, the city police department is coming up on its centennial anniversary and, given the Homeland Security orders from the federal government, they also need equipment.
   "The idea of all this is raising revenues for things with the city government that are not rated in the high priority that we would want to take taxpayers money to do it."
   The coins are on sale now at Elizabethton City Hall at $10 each. A protective plastic case designed for the coin can also be had for an additional two dollars.