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Veterans receive reserved parking

CHAMPLAIN - Local zoning regulations require stores to have handicapped-accessible parking. Some stores even allot parking spaces for people with children. But, reserved parking spaces for veterans? That is a rarity.

On Veterans Day 2008, Willard Martin pulled into the parking lot of Price Chopper in Champlain and found the perfect parking spot.

"We were looking for a parking place and somebody said 'Well there's one down at the end,' so we went down there and there was that sign," Martin explained, who is the quartermaster for Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1418.

The sign Martin was referring to looks similar to a handicapped-accessible sign except it reads "Veteran's Parking. Resserved for those who served."

"I've never seen anything like that, anywhere," Martin said.

Though the sign has been there for more than six months, Martin approached Denton Publications after not seeing any recognition of the designations in the media.

"I've been looking for some kind of acknowledgement," Martin said. "To make it known."

But, where did the sign come from?

"I came in one day and it was there. It was a pleasant surprise," said Champlain Price Chopper store manager James Black, who assumed the corporate stores of Price Chopper chose to put it there.

However, it was the store's landlord Ernest Pomerleau of Pomerleau Real Estate in Burlington, Vt., who had the parking spaces created.

"We own a lot of shopping centers around [Upstate] New York and Vermont," Pomerleau explained. "We do a lot of work with the military here."

Pomerleau said his business often supports Christmas parties and other events for families of the military, especially for those who have members serving overseas.

"Some time last year, [the National Guard] came to us and said 'We're having this idea; another way to support or honor our troops ... Would you consider in your parking lots, putting up a little sign?'"

After agreeing to the idea, Pomerleau secured parking spaces at the stores he owns as a "nice tribute to people who have served all the major wars."

"I've been called 'child killer,' 'murderer' and what have you," said Martin. "But, you see something like that and it makes you feel a little better."

"There's a lot of young people from around here that are overseas and they come back ... they like to hear they're being appreciated," he added.

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