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Deputy's memorial to stay on county land, for now

It's been a terrible time for the family of Jason Zunker since the former Hawthorne resident was killed while directing traffic on U.S. Highway 53 near Bloomer 18 months ago.

It's been a terrible time for the family of Jason Zunker since the former Hawthorne resident was killed while directing traffic on U.S. Highway 53 near Bloomer 18 months ago.

But now Marlene Zunker of Superior is relieved to know that her son's memorial will stay intact on the Chippewa County courthouse lawn.

"Oh, I'm so glad they're going to keep it there," she said. "I hope they keep it there forever."

The usually mundane Chippewa County buildings and grounds committee became a lightning rod when members voted last month to take down a panel on the 6-foot memorial, which was inscribed with Zunker's own words, including references to his faith in Jesus. Committee Chairman Mike Murphy says they've gotten calls and e-mails from around the country.

"Our purpose was never to dishonor him. We realize he lost his life in the line of duty. I've been called a Nazi, a God-hater, a socialist. I don't even know what a socialist is or a fascist. I've been called all these names. We're not that. We're a group of people who are doing what we think is right for the county."

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The committee voted to keep the memorial in place and intact and even defend it in county court if they are sued to have it removed. But he says if they lose on that level, it will be up to supporters of Zunker's memorial to continue the legal fight, not Chippewa County.

Zunker, a deputy in the Chippewa County Sheriff's Department, was killed while directing traffic on Highway 53 near Bloomer in January of last year. He was raised in Hawthorne and attended Superior Senior High.

Related Topics: POLICE
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