Summer updates: Spring Grove moves along in summer heat

Jordan Gerard/SGH Dave Cleven stands next to his nearly finished Vought F4U Corsair airplane, created from odds and ends, a snowblower motor, some sheet metal and anything that could be upcycled. He started the project in 2017.
Jordan Gerard

The town of Spring Grove seemed to be moving right along with all of its projects happening around town before the big heat wave set in.

With temperatures rising to the upper 80s last week, 90s by the end of this week and humidity finally showing its ugly face, a few projects have been lucky enough to make good progress.

Road construction

Construction can be seen progressing on 1st Ave. NW, 3rd Ave. NW and 1st St. NW. More information about the construction phases will be available after the City Council meeting on July 23.

Habitat for Humanity

Unfortunately, building for the home has not yet begun because Habitat for Humanity is still waiting on a cement contractor, Executive Director Kahya Fox said. They hope to start digging this week.

Jo’s Coffee House

A lot of progress has been seen on the anticipated coffee shop and construction updates have been posted to Red’s IGA and Jo’s Coffee House  social media pages. The deli was expected to open Tuesday, Juy 16 after a new floor was laid.

Navy Blue Water case

This past spring we brought the story of the U.S. Federal Court of Appeals ruling in favor of Navy veterans who served in Vietnam on ships off the coast of Vietnam.

According to Houston County Veteran Services Officer Robert Theon, the Department of Justice has decided not to appeal the decision.

Congress officially passed H.R. 299, or Blue Water Veterans Act of 2019, which prevents the VA from “arbitrarily stripping veterans of their earned benefits.”

The act still needs President Trump’s signature in order for it to become law and go into effect in 2020.

Theon said the law would stretch back to claims from 1985 forward. Not only does it help Navy vets in Vietnam and their widows, but Theon adds it could also help other wars’ potential hazardous exposures.

“This as well provides a directive to the VA (Veterans Affairs) to conduct research into other wars’ potential hazardous exposures,” he said. 

The course of action for these veterans is to visit Theon at his office in order to lay the groundwork when the law takes effect.

Dave Cleven’s airplane

About two years ago, we found out local resident Dave Cleven was creating a replica Vought F4U Corsair airplane.

When we first talked to him, he said it was his “junk folk art” project, and he enjoyed collecting things and turning them into something else.

“I love doing this. It just comes naturally,” Cleven told the Herald previously. “Nothing is wasted.”

Now the plane looks nearly finished and in finishing it, Cleven was able to use an engine and the auger belts from a snow blower.

He used a mini Hamm’s keg for the replica bomb storage compartment and made rockets out of PVC pipe. 

For the chrome around the machine guns, he used chrome from an old light fixture.

A small trailer door was used for the tail wing. Rubber around the seat area was from an old truck door. Radio knobs are from an old gas grill.

The size of the project changed three times, each getting bigger. He had to spend some dollars on the sheet metal to cover the plane. In 2017, he had $86 invested into the project, but now he has $500 into it.

He also painted it and stenciled out the letters, numbers and teeth on the nose of the plane.

When we first talked to him in 2017, he had about 350 rivets so far and estimated he would have 2,000 rivets to finish the plane.

His estimate was about right too, as he said he had a little over 2,000 rivets.

Passersby in Southeast Alley have seen progress to the plane since he began the project. Cleven also pulled the plane in the Syttende Mai parade and took it to the fly in breakfast at Houston County Airport recently.

“Some people say you can’t do it, but I prove them wrong,” he said previously. “It’s fun and something to talk about.”

Stay tuned for more updates as the summer progresses.


While passing HR299 it is a good thing and it will help many Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans, In is a sad state of affairs when something becomes Political when it shouldn’t. The latest example is the passing of HR299, The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019.
Here we have a Bill that is suppose to help Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans who may have been exposed to Agent Orange. Yes it has been signed into law and will take effect on January 1, 2020 and it will help some Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans but it won’t help others that were going to be helped after the Procopio Ruling was handed down.
We have the Leadership of Congress and the large VSO running around patting themselves on their backs for passing of the Bill. However there are some groups missing, both Military Veterans Advocacy and Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Association are missing from all of the Media dealing with HR299. These are two of the groups that have worked the hardest and always stayed on course with the Bill, yet the Leadership in Congress and the large VSOs are ignoring them. Could this be because of the fact that they are the two groups pointing out the major problem with HR299, that will limit the Procopio Ruling just because of the word “Offshore” in HR299.
We are the ones that haven’t changed the way we feel about this issue. In the last session of Congress we were pushing HR299 and the Big VSOs had a problem with the funding, well until it appeared that there was no stopping the Bill. They were fighting against it, if you don’t believe it check last year. They were against the Pay For. They fought it for the longest time until it appeared it was going to pass the House, then they came out for it. Why would they do that? Was it so they could take credit for it, or is it something else?
Then this session of Congress after the Procopio Ruling was announced, the VSOs decides to start supporting HR299 when in fact HR299 was no longer needed. But the VSOs decided that they need to “PROTECT” the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans by putting in the Geographic Points. It doesn’t take a Legal Expert to see that by defining the Geographic Points and calling them  “Offshore” will limit the Procopio Ruling. My question is, didn’t they have their Lawyers read the Bill and the Procopio Ruling, I don’t think so. They just wanted to show they are going to “PROTECT” the Blue Water Navy Vietnams and now it is going to hurt those that are covered under the Procopio Ruling. The Procopio Ruling states that “Offshore” is farther out than the Geographical Points known as the Territorial Seas.
Could the actually reasons why they would not change the wording be due to money. Are Congress and the large VSO working together to make sure that the cost of the Bill doesn’t go any higher. Or are the two groups working together for other reasons, like I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine.
Now it gets even worse. On July 1, 2019 Secretary Wilkie of the VeteransAdministration decided to issue a Stay. In the VA statement, Secretary Wilkie states “VA is dedicated to ensuring that all veterans receive the benefits they have earned,” Wilkie said in a statement. “We are working to ensure that we have the proper resources in place to meet the needs of our Blue Water veteran community and MINIMIZE THE IMPACT ON ALL VETERANS FILING FOR DISABILITY COMPENSATION.” To me he is saying, just so we don’t impact other Veterans we are just going to delay The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans, AFTER ALL THEY ARE USED TO IT.
My feeling is if it that important for the Leadership of Congress and the Big VSOs to leave Blue Water Navy Association out of everything, then fine, I hope they remember to take the credit when early next year when Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans find out that just because their ship was just outside by a couple of miles the Geographical Points that they are no longer covered but they would of been covered if Procopio Ruling, had S1195 passed or just changed the word “Offshore” in HR299. 
If they think we are going to give up they are wrong. We will Continue the fight for veterans rights. 

Mike Yates
National Commander
Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Association
Continuing the fight for veterans rights