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Albemarle begins process to reconsider Confederate statue
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Albemarle begins process to reconsider Confederate statue

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Albemarle Confederate soldier statue

DAILY PROGRESS FILE

A bronze statue of an unnamed Confederate soldier stands outside the Albemarle County Courthouse.

The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on the county’s Confederate statue on August 6.

On Wednesday, the board approved to schedule and advertise the August public hearing on its intent to “remove, relocate, contextualize or cover” a monument to Confederate soldiers at the Albemarle courthouse.

The move comes on the first day that a new law goes into effect, allowing localities the authority to remove, relocate or alter their war monuments following a public process.

The move also could make Albemarle the first locality in Central Virginia to remove a monument; Charlottesville must wait to address its statues until an injunction is lifted.

Supervisors did not outright specify what they wanted to do with the statue, as well as with two cannons and stacked cannonballs that are around the statue.

Supervisor Bea LaPisto-Kirtley said she thinks the discussion is long overdue, and that she was looking forward to next month’s public hearing.

“I don’t think a war memorial or statues such as this should be in front of a courthouse,” she said. “A courthouse represents justice for all; I don’t want anyone to feel intimidated.”

The new law also gives counties the authority to hold an advisory referendum on what to do with the statue, but Supervisors Donna Price and LaPisto-Kirtley specifically said they did not support a referendum.

“Now is the time to take action,” Price said.

Supervisors Liz Palmer and Diantha McKeel said they would save their comments for after the public hearing.

After holding a public hearing, if the board votes to move or alter the statue, it must offer the monument or memorial for relocation and placement to any museum, historical society, government or military battlefield, and must wait 30 days before removal.

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According to the new law, the board has “sole authority to determine the final disposition of the monument or memorial.”

If the county follows a possible timeline that was presented in June, the earliest the statue could be taken down is Sept. 5.

The statue is a bronze, life-size Confederate soldier in uniform, and was erected in 1909 and paid for by the county, the city and the United Daughters of the Confederacy. It sits in front of the courthouse on Albemarle property that was never annexed by the city, facing south toward East Jefferson Street.

The county also is working on collecting public input through an online survey and virtual meetings on how the Court Square grounds in downtown Charlottesville should look. The next virtual meeting is a 6 p.m. July 8 guided conversation for community members to share their stories about memorialization, public space and Court Square.

Relief fund

Albemarle is receiving $9,538,621 from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act of 2020 Coronavirus Relief Fund.

The state received approximately $3.1 billion in federal CARES CRF funding, and some of that money has been allocated to localities.

On Wednesday, the board approved a plan to dedicate about $3.5 million to general county services and obligations, $1 million to technology, including broadband, $2.5 million to human services and $2.5 million to economic development.

The funding can only be used to cover costs from expenses stemming from to the COVID-19 public health emergency, which were not accounted for in the fiscal year 2020 budget and were incurred between March 1 and Dec. 30.

Lori Allshouse, the county’s director of management and budget, said county staff will monitor and adjust as necessary.

“It’s very important to note that this is a plan, it’s not a budget,” she said. “Funding can move from category to category, and from column to column based on actual expenditures and projects that we’re doing.”

The county school division, registrar’s office, police department, fire department and social services have gotten other CARES act program funding, as has Charlottesville Area Transit and Jaunt, and the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission.

Allshouse said more information will be brought back to the board on July 15 about the $2.5 million to human services and $2.5 million to economic development.

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