One bidder for Surry monument

Published 6:36 pm Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Surry County received only one proposal during the 30-day window for museums and organizations to express interest in taking the county’s Confederate monument.

On Sept. 11, four days prior to the deadline, a Hampton Roads chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans offered to pay Surry County up to $3,000 to take ownership of the monument, which the group plans to re-erect on private property located off Mount Ivy Lane, a little over a mile from Chippokes Plantation State Park.

The group has further agreed to foot the bill for the equipment and manpower needed to move the monument.

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“We are trying very hard to save the monument, to keep it in Surry,” said SCV Camp No. 9 Commander Mike Armistead, who, in his proposal, describes the proposed new location as “well ‘off the beaten path’ but accessible to those who would like to respectably visit.”

It’s also the site of an actual skirmish between members of the 13th Virginia Cavalry of Surry and a party of Union soldiers.

Surry County Administrator Melissa Rollins was initially reluctant to share details on how many proposals the county had received to take the monument, and from whom, telling the paper last week that the information was “not available at this time.” The Smithfield Times was able to obtain a copy of the lone proposal on Monday via a Freedom of Information Act request.

Surry’s Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Aug. 13 to remove the monument. Two days after the vote, a crane showed up to haul the monument away to an undisclosed location. Prior to this, the monument had stood for more than 100 years in front of the county’s courthouse.

The statue depicts a Confederate soldier standing atop a stone base engraved with the Confederate battle flag and the inscription “Our heroes 1861-1865, to the Confederate soldiers of Surry County, that we through life may not forget to love the thin gray line, erected by the Confederate Memorial Association of Surry County A.D. 1909.”

A Sept. 15 invoice Surry County received from Hampton Roads Crane & Rigging Co., which the paper also obtained via its FOIA request, doesn’t specify exactly where the company took the monument, but states it was moved approximately one mile away from the courthouse. It lists a cost of $9,280 for the removal. While the cost fell under the threshold for Surry to be required to seek formal bids, the county did obtain quotes besides the one from Hampton Roads Crane & Rigging, Rollins confirmed.

The Board of Supervisors has scheduled a virtual meeting for 7 p.m. Oct. 1, but the draft agenda for that meeting doesn’t list a discussion on Surry’s Confederate monument.

Even though SCV Camp No. 9 is the only bidder, state law is clear that monuments’ final disposition rests solely with a localities’ governing body, meaning the Board doesn’t necessarily have to accept the SCV’s proposal.