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Future of Washington County statues in question

Future of Washington County statues in question

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ABINGDON, Va. — Washington County officials need to move two Confederate monuments off the Washington County Courthouse lawn to make way for courthouse construction, but finding new homes for the statues is turning into a difficult task.

Citizens have suggested putting the monuments at town-owned properties in Abingdon. Yet Abingdon Town Manager Jimmy Morani said Monday the town may not be able to accept the monuments.

“At this time, I’m not certain the town will be in a position to take those at any of our facilities,” Morani said.

Members of the board of directors of Abingdon’s Veterans Memorial Park told the Washington County Board of Supervisors at a public hearing last week they would accept one statue and its supporting monument at the park.

In turn, the Historical Society of Washington County has voted to recommend that one monument be placed at the Sinking Spring Cemetery in Abingdon and the others at the Veterans Memorial Park.

“The town owns Sinking Spring Cemetery and the Veterans Memorial Park, so the town would have to authorize the placement of the statues at either of those two locations,” Morani said.

According to Morani, the board of directors at the Veterans Memorial Park does not have the authority to accept the monuments.

“Anything they would propose or recommend would still have to be approved by the town,” Morani said. “And, at this time, I don’t know that taking it at the cemetery would be feasible. I have not had any discussions with any individuals about where those statues or monuments could be placed in the cemetery. We have not discussed it at all with the Sinking Spring Cemetery Committee.”

Some speakers have addressed the Abingdon Town Council on moving the monuments in recent months. But the council has not formally discussed the monuments.

“I don’t have plans to place this on any upcoming meeting agenda for the town council,” Morani said.

Three members of Abingdon’s Town Council declined comment on the monuments; two others could not be reached.

“I don’t foresee a situation in the future where the town accepts the statue or the monument on its property,” Morani said.

Last week, county officials issued a release, asking for anyone who is interested in taking the memorials to come forward by Dec. 10.

“I understand the county has a very difficult task in relocating the statue and monument,” Morani said. “However, we would like to hear from the public on this.”

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