A Confederate marker that was removed after violent protests in other parts of the country will be returned to public display in Franklin Twp., according to trustees.
“The monument is going back,” said Trustee President Brian Morris of the 90-year-old marker honoring Gen. Robert E. Lee and the Dixie Highway.
The monument was removed overnight Aug. 17 from the intersection of Hamilton-Middletown Road and Dixie Highway. The decision came as officials around the country removed several Confederate monuments after a counter-protester was killed when white supremacists marched to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, Va.
The marker “ might not be in the exact same spot," Morris said. "You’re going to get essentially what we all want, but it might not be in the exact same spot.”
Several township-owned properties along Dixie Highway are being considered to house the marker, but no site has been selected, he said.
“We’ll have a re-dedication ceremony,” Morris said. “It’s going to be put back out in public. Rest assured, get the word out, it will be back.”
He said the monument will need to be placed 50 feet from the right of way. The city of Franklin moved the stone monument, with officials citing safety reasons because it was within the 50-foot right of way of South Dixie Highway.
“We want to do it right. We want to make sure because when we put this back, it is put back in the correct form, that it’s in the right place and it’s somewhere where its properly dedicated for what it is,” Morris said.
Resident Donald Whisman asked why the township has not at least taken a photo of the rock and plaque so people know what condition it is in.
Township Administrator Traci Stivers said the rock is in good shape and not damaged. According to township records, the rock weighs about five tons and sat on a concrete base.
A public works crew from the city of Franklin damaged the plaque on the large rock during its move and it has been sent to a repair facility in Columbus.
Trustee Ron Ruppert declined to provide the name of the company at the request of the company, which he said has repaired some other Confederate-related markers.
He said the marker’s plaque is expected back at the township early next week.
City officials said the cost of the repairs to the bronze plaque was about $2,000.
After the meeting, Morris said the controversy caused by the marker “could actually be a good thing.”
“A lot of people might think that this monument has been a bad thing, but in my eyes it could actually be a great thing,” he said. “… because it’s a chance for people to open up that dialogue and have those conversations that need to be had.”
Morris said it’s time for people to bury the past and use these things as teaching tools for children.
“It’s a monument that we’re going to put back out there and you can teach your child ‘this is what it used to be like and this is how it should be,’” he said. “There was a war fought over this …. Let’s treat each other with respect like we should be.”