Fayette County

$75,000 donated so far to relocate Confederate statues. City still calculating cost.

Private donors have pledged $75,000 so far to pay for relocating two controversial Confederate statues from the lawn of the former Fayette County courthouse to Lexington Cemetery.

What’s the actual cost? The city is still figuring that out, said Susan Straub, a spokeswoman for the city of Lexington.

“Our plan is for the private funds to pay for expenses related to the cemetery move,” Straub said.

Lisa Adkins, president and CEO of the Blue Grass Community Foundation, said people can still donate online to the moving fund, which is housed at the foundation.

Duncan Machinery and Prometheus Bronze Foundry volunteered to move the statues of John C. Breckinridge and John Hunt Morgan at no cost to the city, but Straub said installation at the cemetery could also involve additional security measures, which can be costly.

Crews removed the statues overnight Tuesday and placed them in storage while the city works out a final agreement with the Lexington Cemetery, which tentatively agreed to take the statues in September.

Lexington police stepped up their presence Tuesday night around the former courthouse on Main Street while the statues were removed — a white nationalist group had previously said it would protest the removal — but the city will not use the $75,000 for police salaries or overtime, Straub said.

Morgan, a former Confederate general, and Breckinridge, a former U.S. vice president and Confederate Secretary of War, are both buried at the historic cemetery. The Breckinridge staue had been in the courthouse square since 1887; Morgan’s since 1911.

The city took many by surprise by removing the statues Tuesday evening. Officials had previously said the relocation had to be approved by the Kentucky Military Heritage Commission. But an opinion by Attorney General Andy Beshear released Tuesday said the commission does not have say over the statues’ fate.

Former Mayor Teresa Issac did not get the Lexington council’s approval when she signed an application to put the statues under the commission’s purview in 2003. Because the council didn’t sign off on the application, it is void, Beshear opined. Isaac signed the application at the request of a private citizen.

It’s not clear if the commission — which is scheduled to meet next month — will challenge the city’s decision to move the statues.

A spokesman for the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet has not returned repeated messages. The tourism cabinet oversees the military heritage commission.

Beth Musgrave: 859-231-3205, @HLCityhall

How to give

Donations to a fund that will pay for the relocation of two Confederate statues can be made to the Blue Grass Community Foundation at https://bluegrass.kimbia.com/lexington-ky-statue-relocation.

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