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Permanent Memorial Commission Publishes First Q&A

The Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission has published a document in the form of questions and answers (Q&A) at the town website as an effort to guide people through the process, said commission chairman Kyle Lyddy.

“It is a format that the town has used previously and we thought it was a digestible way for people to get accurate information. We want this to be a collaborative effort and know there will be many groups involved in the process; therefore it will be important to be transparent as we progress. We are doing this as a proactive effort to keep the community in tune,” Mr Lyddy said.

The idea of a permanent memorial has been suggested to honor the 26 children and educators who died as a result of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, and to offer comfort to others.

The Q&A addresses many common inquiries, beginning with what the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission is, and its mission.

“The Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission is a group of 12 Newtown residents appointed by the Newtown Board of Selectman in September 2013. [Along with Mr Lyddy, JoAnn Bacon, Joanne Brunetti, Steffan Burns, Brian Engel, Daniel Krauss, Agni Pavlidou Kyprianou, Scarlett Lewis, Alan Martin, Sarah Middeleer, Tricia Pinto, and Donna Van Waalwijk serve on the commission.] The 12 residents are expected to lead the community through the process of determining if a permanent memorial should be constructed and if so, making a recommendation on the nature, location and funding of a permanent memorial(s)” to the Board of Selectmen, the Q&A continues.

The commission has broken down information gathering into four phases. In Phase I, the commission’s priority is to engage the 26 families directly affected by 12/14, communicating with them each month.

Phase II is focusing on information from teachers and staff who were at the school the day of the shootings, parents of students enrolled there that day, and first responders. Conversations are underway with leaders of those groups of people, Mr Lyddy said, and stressed that input from the 26 families and others directly affected will always be welcomed, throughout the process.

“The Newtown community will have an opportunity to share thoughts on the topic in public settings,” during Phase III, according to the Q&A.

“We haven’t figured the best way to complete this phase,” Mr Lyddy said. “However, like all the phases, it will be done in multiple settings and various different ways. We’ve talked about digital surveys and in-person public meetings. Again, we want to assure that those who want to participate have the opportunity to do so, while also doing so in a comfortable and appropriate setting.”

The commission expects conversations to go on for the next three to four months, with some phases overlapping each other. The implementation of the phases is flexible, Mr Lyddy said, with communication sensitively timed.

“We want to be thorough, which is why we haven’t tabbed a specific timeline,” he said. “We are, however, taking steps to prepare ourselves and to understand the best way of going about those conversations.”

Phase IV is envisioned as a continuation of dialogue and collaboration with the 26 directly affected families, prior to the commission making any kind of recommendation to the Board of Selectmen.

The commission meets on the second Thursday of each month, at 7:30 pm, in the chamber at Newtown Municipal Center. The meetings are open to the public.

“Those who want to participate, are welcome to do so,” said Mr Lyddy. “We’re all ears at this stage. Those who want to participate or have questions that will help us in our process are welcome to join us. We don’t have every answer. We’re working our way through this.”

There are a number of ways to get in contact with the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission. To correspond with Mr Lyddy, e-mail SandyHookPermanentMemorial@gmail.com. Commission progress can be followed through social media on Twitter (@SHPermMemorial) and Facebook (Facebook.com/SandyHookPermanentMemorial). A website is being built and will be posted when it has been published.

Future Q&A formats will be posted at the town website, according to the commission chair.

“I think as we progress we will have a better understanding of how frequently these will go out,” Mr Lyddy said. “This is meant to be a factual publication to keep the community updated on our efforts.”

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