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Commissioners approve funding for Evans military memorial

Posted: June 21, 2014 - 11:04pm

Columbia County commissioners voted Tuesday to approve another $70,000 in sales tax funds to build a military memorial behind the Evans library.

Although the county already has memorials at the Appling Courthouse and at the Patriot’s Park recreation complex, Cross said he wanted to create another, more centrally located memorial with better public access and visibility.

“I thought this would be something nice for the entire community,” Cross said.

The total budget for the project is about $150,000. Commissioners previously approved using $81,000 in 2006-2010 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) funds, according to Commission Chairman Ron Cross.

The additional $70,000 came from commissioner’s discretionary SPLOST funds, with each district commissioner and the chairman chipping in $5,000, with the exception of Commission District 3 which was tapped for $50,000.

District 3 has been unrepresented since Charles Allen resigned in March.

Cross said the county is trying to close out unused funds and finish projects from the 2006-2010 SPLOST collections. He said that whoever is elected to fill Allen’s seat will still have the full amount of discretionary funds from the SPLOST that began in 2011.

The measure passed by a 3-1 vote with District 4 Commissioner Bill Morris voting against it. Morris said he objected to the item being added to the commission agenda without first going through the committee process.

“I also was a little concerned about how it was handled, taking $50,000 out of District 3,” Morris said. “I’m in favor of building a memorial, I just think it moved too fast.”

Cross said he hopes the memorial can be constructed and dedicated by the beginning of 2015.

“It’s really just a 60- to 90-day construction project,” he said.

The design indicates that space for the memorial will be carved out of a hill behind the library, with a large, curved brick wall and six flagpoles – one for the U.S. flag and others for each military branch.

Metal plaques attached to the wall will serve as a memorial to all of the county’s war dead, dating to the Civil War. There also will be plaques commemorating the service branches stationed at Fort Gordon, in addition to one with names of all the post commanders since it was established, Cross said.

“This is going to be a military memorial, not a war memorial,” he said.

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