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Washington County officials not yet sure of cost to move monuments

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BHC 12092021 Washington County Confederate Soldier 01

The monument to Confederate Soldiers of Washington County, Virginia. The statue was placed on May 30, 1907.

ABINGDON, Va. — Officials in Washington County, Virginia, want to establish a new park for two Confederate monuments currently located on the grounds of the Washington County Courthouse.

But, as of now, they do not have an estimate of how much that park or relocating the statues would cost.

The monuments must be moved to make way for the construction and expansion of the Washington County Courthouse in Abingdon. The Board of Supervisors voted earlier this month to move the monuments to county-owned property off Bundy Drive, near the county government office building.

Supervisor Charlie Hargis made the motion to move the monuments, following a year of communitywide debate on where the statues could be relocated.

Just a couple of weeks ago, Hargis discovered a grassy area off Bundy Drive — a site that cannot be seen from the county office building, its parking lots or nearby I-81, according to County Administrator Jason Berry.

One monument is a statue of a soldier that is slated to be re-purposed into a soldier representing “the common foot soldier” of all wars, Hargis said. The other monument pays tribute to local Confederate generals.

Hargis estimated the cost could be anywhere between $10,000 to $70,000 to move the monuments.

Berry said an exact cost would be determined in a couple of weeks.

“We don’t know for sure,” Berry said.

Moving the monuments was already necessary, so costs would be factored into the courthouse construction costs, Berry said.

“That is part of building the courthouse,” Hargis said.

The courthouse construction has a $2 million account for overruns and other costs, Berry said.

Five parties asked to have the monument moved to their sites but the board rejected all at last week’s meeting in favor of keeping the monuments and moving them to this county-owned property.

“The board thought that was a great location,” Berry said.

Hargis envisions a park with picnic tables and a path that leads to the monuments, where historic markers could tell the story of each, he said.

How big the park will be “remains to be seen,” said Hargis. “I would say it’s at least an acre, maybe two. It’s not going to be anything monstrous, but it is going to be pretty.”

jtennis@bristolnews.com

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