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Tazewell County supervisors approve referendum on courthouse statute

Tazewell County supervisors approve referendum on courthouse statute

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Tazewell, Va. – It will be up to the voters in Tazewell County whether or not the statute of a Confederate Soldier stays in front of the courthouse or moves.

After hearing from 19 speakers the board of supervisors voted 5-0 to ask the circuit court to issue an order placing the issue on the ballot this November.   “The vote tonight is whether or not to have a referendum not whether or not to remove the statute,’ County Administrator Eric Young said.

“The question will read should the Tazewell County board of super visors relocate the monument of the Confederate soldier from the grounds of the courthouse,’ County Attorney Chase Collins said. The vote would be either yes or no.

While the referendum is nonbinding at least three members of the board said emphatically they would honor the wishes of the voters in their district.  Chairman Charlie Stacy as well as board members Mike Hymes and Maggie Asbury said they planned to do what the voters in their district want.

Laurie Roberts outlined the history of the statute explaining it was bought with private money and made by a company in Connecticut and was one of many mass produced to satisfy the need of women’s groups to romanticize the lost cause.

She said the statutes are on courthouse lawns across the country with the only difference being whether or not there is a CS or US label on the soldier.  The statute was made and erected in 1903 and Roberts said she was not certain how the decision to place it on the courthouse lawn was made.

Speakers passionately presented their cases to either move the statute or leave it where it is. Jason Alsbrook started the petition on to leave the statute where it is and said he had 2,642 signatures.

Bill Bunch said he thought the statute should be relocated to a memorial park for Confederate veterans. Eric Whitesell said the monument honors the 2,000 soldiers from Tazewell County who fought in the Civil War.

Whitesell said the 2,000 soldiers represented one fifth of the county population at the time of the Civil War.  David Saunders III repeated his belief expressed on Juneteenth that the community is better represented by the LOVE sign on the east end of town rather than the statute.

Young said the county received letters, emails and petitions about the matter and decided the referendum was the best solution.  “Many names on the petitions are those of residents of other counties and states.  Some are even citizens of Canada.  Holding a referendum also helps the board clearly identify the desires of our Tazewell County residents.  If anyone is not registered to vote, they may contact the County Registrar’s office to do so.  The deadline is October 13th,” Young said    

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