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Mom of Charleston 9 victim asks about delayed tribute at site of fire

Ann Mulkey's pride in her son Louis has never waned; it's as great now as it was before or after he died alongside eight others in the Sofa Superstore fire. But with a decade since the fire, Mulkey is wondering where the city's pride is in her son and the Charleston 9.

Mulkey says in all this time, the city still has not followed through on promises for a true memorial for the Charleston 9.

She likes what is there now, including the plaques with the names of the fallen -- but it isn't what was talked about years ago and she thinks those who died deserve more.

"I thought for three or four years it was going to be done. And it turned out to be totally different," she said.

Mulkey is frustrated with the City of Charleston. She thinks city leaders broke a promise to her and other families about creating a full-scale memorial to the nine firemen killed in the line of duty.

"The money is there. Why not finish it?," Mulkey asked. "And make it a beautiful park so that firefighters and their families coming from out of town can go there."

Mulkey says phone conversation last year from a top city official didn't ease her concerns.

"We, whoever we are, is gonna put a brick wall out front to make it look pretty. We don't need a brick wall out there. We need trees out there. We need benches and fountains," she said.

Mulkey says she even tried to schedule an appointment with Mayor John Tecklenburg.

"I wasn't called back. I was told I'd be called back and I never was," Mulkey said.

A city official apologized Monday for that.

"We sincerely apologize for the miscommunication. After hearing about it late this afternoon, the mayor directed city staff to arrange a meeting for him and Ms. Mulkey at the earliest available opportunity," said city spokesman Jack O’Toole.

As the anniversary of the catastrophic fire draws closer, Mulkey wants more to be doen to memorialize the heroes who died.

"I hope and pray that we get an answer because we haven't gotten one in ten years," she said.

Mulkey says she continues to print stickers to honor her son and the other Charleston 9 victims. People in Charleston and Summerville keep asking for them, she says.

A city spokesman said Monday evening that there are plans to build a new fire station next to the site of the fire.

"The whole city of Charleston continues to grieve for the nine brave firefighters we lost on that terrible night in 2007. Over the next year, as plans for the new fire station next door are finalized, the city will be working closely with the families of the Charleston Nine and other concerned citizens throughout our community to create a lasting memorial and area of reflection for the site," O’Toole said.

Meanwhile, a local motorcycle club is trying to raise money to put in a new walkway at the Charleston 9 memorial before the 10th anniversary.

The Fire and Iron Motorcycle Club wants to replace the gravel walkway at the site with special commemorative bricks. They need an estimated 10,000 to cover the area. People who buy a brick can customize it with a special message.

There are two sizes of bricks. A 4x8 brick with room for three lines of text sells for $100. An 8x8 brick that can hold six lines of text is $150. To order a brick or get more information, click here: fireandiron28.com.

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