Botetourt County leaders accept committee’s report on Confederate monument, further discussions expected

Roanoke Valley News

BOTETOURT COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — A Confederate monument in Botetourt County may be relocated.

The monument is currently located at the entrance of the county’s courthouse in Fincastle.

The statue’s possible relocation was one of several topics discussed during the Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 26.

One by one, residents took to the stand and expressed their concerns.

“They suffered, were wounded, and died,” said Harriet Francis, President of the United Daughters of the Confederacy in Botetourt County. “I think we need to take our responsibility and honor these people.”

Chris McCloud, a Botetourt County resident, says preserving the county’s history is imperative.

“It’s where they last saw their families, and many of them never came home. It’s the only headstone they’ll ever have. It’s the only marking to say they’ve ever existed, and they need to be left alone,” McCloud said.

After a brief presentation by members of the Monuments and Memorials committee, board members voted to accept their findings for consideration.

The committee recommends moving the monument to a more appropriate location.

“The committee itself felt pressure to do the right thing for Botetourt,” said Beth Leffel, Secretary of the Monuments and Memorials Committee.

If approved, there are several possible areas for the monument’s relocation.

One option includes moving the statue somewhere else within the courthouse square, which is expected to be renovated in a plan designed by county leaders. Another option involves placing the monument in front of Botetourt County’s historical museum.

Most residents say it’s a vote that should be left to the people.

“They should put it before the people. They should let the citizens of this county decide,” McCloud said. “They should put it before a referendum that six other localities in the state did just in November.”

However, some committee members disagree.

“Within our committee, we talked about that a lot, and I know the supervisors considered that before they formed the committee,” said Leffel. “In this particular instance, I don’t feel like a referendum would be the appropriate action, simply because there are minority viewpoints that need to be considered in this decision, and it’s kind of impossible for a minority to win a referendum vote.”

Despite three months of research, nine meetings, and a 90-page report, Leffel says this is just the beginning.

“I think more people need to voice their opinions and more people need to feel like they’ve taken a part in the decision-making process,” Leffel said.

A public hearing is expected to be scheduled after a 30-day waiting period. That date has yet to be determined.

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