Monument to be moved
By Fran Odyniec
For The Plain City Advocate
The trustees of Jerome Township in Union County have made a commitment to move the Civil War monument that stands at the intersection of U.S. Route 42 and the Industrial Parkway in New California to, as generals in that war would say, “good ground and of our choosing.”
Situated on a square of ground measuring 10 feet by 10 feet, the monument is precariously located about three feet from the shoulders of the intersection.
Township trustees Bob Merkle, Andy Thomas, and Ron Rhodes reiterated the fact that the monument will be moved out of harm’s way during a planning meeting for the project held at the township building, Tuesday evening, Oct. 29.
Attending the meeting were representatives from the Plain City Historical Society, the Union County Historical Society, and descendants of Col. William Curry, who led the 1st Ohio Volunteer Cavalry in the Civil War and was the featured speaker at the monument’s dedication in 1913.
“For 30 years I’ve heard people say, ‘We gotta move the monument,’” Rhodes said.
“It’s been on the minds of the people,” said Merkle, who is chairman of the committee. He cited the high volume of traffic and the potential for the monument “to be wiped out by a traffic accident.”
“The monument is very important to the township,” said Thomas. “We will not move it from its location but will move it back (from the corner of the intersection).”
The white bronze monument is 21 feet 4 inches in height, topped off by a statue of an infantryman gazing to the east, and displays the names of 400 soldiers from Jerome Township who served in the Civil War. Also on the monument are the names of Jerome residents who served in the Revolution, the War of 1812, and the Mexican War, and the Spanish-American War.
Merkle emphasized the significance and meaning of the monument for Jerome Township.
“On a per capita basis, more troops came from Jerome Township than any other township in Ohio and possibly the nation,” he pointed out.
Over the years, the monument has shared that corner with a gas station, a pizza shop, and lately a house and a barn.
“When those two lots came available last year, we acquired them,” said Thomas.
The house and barn were recently leveled to clear the .89 acre lot for a planned park complete with trees, historic markers, walkways with the monument as its centerpiece.
An architectural rendering of the proposed park developed by four local architects was presented by Ralph Chizzonite, one of those architects who has offered to serve as project manager.
An accurate cost estimate and a method of funding the project are the two major items on the planning committee’s agenda.
Thus far, the acquisition of the remaining land at the intersection’s corner cost $180,000. According to the trustees, a little over half of the expense was covered by the annual allocation of $100,000 from the developers of Jerome Village. A bank loan was taken out to cover the balance.
Nationwide Realty Services took over the bankrupt village project from the Highland Group, its original developers, and is under contract with the township to provide an annual allocation of $100,000 for eight years.
“This money is not to be spent on operating expenses for the township,” explained Rhodes, who credited Thomas with negotiating the arrangement with Jerome Village. “It is to be spent on recreation and parks.”
The cost of moving the monument and construction of the park will need to be met by private funding,
“That $100,000 got us to the point where we can get the project started,” said Thomas.
The planning committee began sketching funding plans that would include researching grants, seeking financial involvement from corporations such as Scotts and Honda, fund raising events and projects such as a community picnic and purchasing paver’s stones, and researching the availability of government funds among others. It believes that through community involvement, a stronger sense of ownership and pride would be achieved.
Speaking in general terms, the trustees estimated that the overall relocation of the monument, any needed restoration, and creation of a park that would include lighting, a parking lot, trees, and landscaping would cost at least $100,000.
“We made the commitment to move the monument on April 1, 2013,” Thomas said.
He referred to the move as phase one of the project that would require approximately $35,000. The committee estimated that that phase could be completed by the end of next summer allowing for a rededication of the monument itself.
Rhodes said that to meet its overall costs, the project “would be done as funds are raised. We are preserving something that’s irreplaceable.”
John Hammond, one of Col. Curry’s descendants who lives in Upper Arlington, said of the efforts to preserve and safeguard the monument, “How huge were the contributions and sacrifices the people of this township made (in the Civil War). I see this as an opportunity to restore, preserve and pass it on to future generations.”
Another report on the relocation and restoration of the Civil War monument in New California will appear in the coming weeks.