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Vets Hall will open online first

The prototype version of the anticipated Veterans Memorial Hall, which opened last November, closed on Labor Day as the Depot begins a $4 million renovation, and the veterans project begins its completion phase.

The prototype version of the anticipated Veterans Memorial Hall, which opened last November, closed on Labor Day as the Depot begins a $4 million renovation, and the veterans project begins its completion phase.
That will delay the opening of the physical hall.
"It will not open until sometime in 2001, hopefully in the summer," said Virgil Swing, content developer for the Veterans Memorial Hall, "but it's contingent on progress in the Depot renovation."
However, that won't keep the facility from being available. Swing said when organizers started looking at the dates and realized the renovation was there, the group expedited its efforts to complete a bidding process for a Web site developer.
Earlier this month, the St. Louis County Historical Society, which, with several veterans groups, is creating the hall, announced that a contractor had been selected, and that the online hall would open before the physical one.
The "cyber museum" will be created by Minneapolis-based Barr Engineering Company, which also has offices in Duluth and elsewhere. The contract requires that the project be completed by Jan. 14, 2001, and Swing said both the company and hall organizers hope the project will be complete even sooner.
"Our goal is to have the Web site duplicate everything that's electronically possible that's in the hall," Swing said, noting that most everything but the actual artifacts will work online.
Although a prototype for the site now exists, Swing said the new site will be "much more expansive."
Like the prototype, the final site, to be located at http://www.vets-hall.org , will have a substantial number of veterans' biographies. Some 4,000 already have been uploaded to the prototype site.
However, there will be many more features in the new site. Among them:
* Audio and video recordings.
* Accompanying photographs with veteran biographies.
* Short historical references on each war from the Civil War on, along with conflict maps "that will also help people identify what these wars were about and where they were fought."
* "Cool Facts," which are little-known facts about veterans or home-front contributors.
* Links to veterans organizations, reunions and so on. "Those are already available on the Internet, but we're going to have a link to them," said Swing.
* A calendar of Veterans Memorial Hall events.
Swing said the importance of the "cyber museum" is the worldwide reach.
Noting the people all over the country and world who have ties to northeastern Minnesota, Swing said "almost all of them have access to the Internet. ... So people all over the world, really, will be able to find out what Veterans Memorial Hall is all about."
Veterans will also be able to submit biographies through the Web site, an advantage for both vets and hall staff.

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