published Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

Signs banned from lawn of Marion County courthouse

The Marion County Courthouse has veterans' monuments on the lawn. All of the signs advertising various events around Jasper that are normally placed on the grounds in front of the monuments have already been removed.
Photo by Ryan Lewis
The Marion County Courthouse has veterans' monuments on the lawn. All of the signs advertising various events around Jasper that are normally placed on the grounds in front of the monuments have already been removed. Photo by Ryan Lewis

JASPER, Tenn. — For years Marion County leaders and veterans have voiced displeasure over signs placed on the county courthouse grounds by various organizations advertising local events.

The signs, they said, are disrespectful because they obscure several nearby monuments dedicated to the memory of fallen veterans.

Commissioner Ralph Pickett made a motion at a recent meeting to ban signs on the courthouse grounds, and the Marion County Commission voted unanimously to approve it.

"We're in total agreement, at least about this one issue," Commission Chairman Les Price said.

Pickett said he was driving by the courthouse in Jasper last week and saw some of the signs on its lawn.

"It ran through my mind to stop and pull them up and lay them down so people can see what's around the courthouse," he said. "I guess I didn't know whether I'd be doing wrong or not since I'm a county commissioner."

People rarely asked if placing signs on the lawn is acceptable, County Mayor John Graham said, and they just seem to "show up."

"I think I've been asked three times, maybe, since I've been mayor," he said.

Commissioner Louin Campbell said he hopes publicizing the move will help alert groups that place signs on the grounds so they won't run into any trouble with the new rule.

"I've been trying to get this done for years," he said.

Officials did not say what penalties violations of the ban would bring.

County Attorney Billy Gouger said the courthouse lawn is county property, and the sheriff has "legal jurisdiction and authority to maintain and oversee those grounds."

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