Interest in Jerome Township Civil War statue spikes
Jerome Township and law enforcement officials are working to protect a Civil War monument that has become the township’s symbol.
Last week, Mel Keefer, who serves as website administrator for the Jerome Township website, noticed a spike in web traffic searching for the Jerome Township Civil War Memorial. Keefer notified the township trustees of the interest.
“She saw increased activity of people from outside the area looking for it,” Trustee Joe Craft said. “That gave her some concern.”
Craft said the concern stemmed from protests nationwide over Civil War monuments. Some of the protests have turned violent and some have resulted in protesters vandalizing the monuments. Leaders in many communities around the country have opted to remove monuments dedicated to Confederate soldiers and leaders.
Craft notified the Union County Sheriff’s Office of the concern.
At Monday’s meeting, Public Safety Officer Dep. Morgan Brown said the sheriff has discussed the concerns with deputies, but, “given the current climate, what it’s there for, I don’t see any problems.”
The 104-year-old monument, which features a Civil War infantryman with rifle, honors Civil War and Spanish-American War veterans from Jerome Township. All those Civil War soldiers fought for the Union.
“We from the sheriff’s office see that as not being a concern because it is for the Union,” Brown said,
Craft said he hopes potential protestors understand that.
“Our fear is that somebody just sees the monument and sees blood, given the current climate,” Craft said.
Brown did stress that the monument is also a PokiStop, an area where players of the Pokémon Go virtual game can stop to fight in the game and collect virtual game items. He said some people stopping at the monument might simply be playing the game. The Public Safety Officer said he believes the monument is the only PokeStop in the township.
“We just want to encourage the citizens to call us if they see any suspicious activity,” Brown said.
In 2012, the Jerome Township trustees decided to move the veteran’s monument away for the intersection of Industrial Parkway and U.S. 42. The monument stood just feet from the actual intersection. Township officials purchased about an acre of property at the intersection of U.S. 42 and Industrial Parkway. In 2013, Columbus Art Memorial restored the sandstone base and white zinc statue.
Township officials then decided to create a park with walkways, benches, a flagpole and a remembrance wall around the monument. Paver stones honoring other veterans from the township were added to the monument.
In 1912, the trustees were given $250 for the monument with the understanding they would raise an additional $750. In total, the monument erected in 1913 cost about $1,500.
In other news:
– Resident and former trustee Andy Thomas asked the public safety officer about trains in the township. He said last week a train blocked Warner Road for almost 24 hours. He said it was blocked for more than two and a half hours Monday. Thomas said he wanted to make police and fire officials aware of the issues so they could plan alternate routes accordingly.
Brown said he is aware of the issue. He said officials are looking into the possibility of citing railroad personnel if the train continues to block the crossing in the future. He said when he heard about the blockage Monday he went to the tracks, but the train had just moved.
Fire Chief Bill Stewart said the stoppage several days ago was over labor regulations.
“The crew that was on it, was out of time and they just left it without a relief crew,” Stewart said.
Thomas said law enforcement and fire officials have the ability to force a stopped train to break so the crossing is not blocked. He said last week the train was eventually broke but was not moved enough to cause the crossing gates to raise.
– Township officials set eligibility requirements for purchasing cemetery lots.
Earlier this year, the Jerome Township Trustees voted to restrict the sale of cemetery plots to “only township residents.”
In February, Trustee C.J. Lovejoy reported that about 85 percent of the cemetery lots in Jerome Township are being sold to out of town residents. The trustees noted Dublin is no longer selling lots and has no intention of expanding its cemeteries or opening new ones. At that time, officials said they needed to do something to provide for the future needs of township residents.
By unanimous vote, the trustees voted to limit the sale of plots in the township cemeteries to township residents.
Monday the trustees voted that cemetery lots may be purchased by current residents of the incorporated or unincorporated areas of the township, current Jerome Township property owners or immediate family member of a resident, property owner or someone of interred in Jerome Township cemetery. The board also voted to allow the trustees to grant exceptions based on whether the applicant is a former resident, property owner of business owner.
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