Leesburg City Manager Bob Alexander, left, and Councilwoman Judy Powell are pictured during the Tuesday night meeting of the Leesburg City Council. (Staff Photo: Danny Carter)
LEESBURG — The impasse over the designation of U.S. Highway 19 in Lee County in honor of Lee County’s military veterans may be inching toward a resolution.
Leesburg City Council members vote 7-0 Tuesday night to designate the entire stretch of U.S. Highway 19 in Lee County as Veterans Memorial Highway.
Council members approved the measure without discussion. The item on the agenda took less than two minutes, with much of that time taken by City Attorney Bert Gregory explaining the process.
Gregory composed the resolution after receiving input from both city and county officials.
Mayor Pro-Tem Debra Long made the motion to approve the resolution. The motion was seconded by council member Judy Powell and passed without opposition.
The city of Leesburg is the first of three governmental entities which must approve the matter before Lee County’s legislative delegation will introduce it in the 2014 General Assembly. Typically, all the government entities involved in a matter of local legislation must approve the measure before legislators will ask the General Assembly for action.
Lee County commissioners are expected to vote on the resolution at their regular December meeting Tuesday night. It also requires approval from the Smithville City Council.
The document approved Tuesday night recognizes “all military veterans of Lee County.” The wording states that designating the highway Veterans Memorial Highway “will provide recognition of such sacrifice and serve as a reminder to all that freedom is not free.”
The resolution notes that special recognition will be given to those who died in war. Lee County commissioners previously said the names of all Lee vCounty eterans who died on active duty will be listed on a sign somewhere along the roadway.
The resolution differs somewhat over the desires of at least two Lee County commissioners.
County Commission Chairman Rick Muggridge and Commissioner Greg Frich each initially wanted the resolution to honor those who died in service with more specific wording to honor Marine Lance Cpl. Steven Sutton, who was killed in action in May 2012 in Afghanistan.
County commissioners, at their November meeting, could not reach an agreement on a specific resolution because Commissioners Ed Duffy and Dennis Roland felt the resolution wording should not bring attention to Sutton over others in the county who had died in military action.
Muggridge and Frich appeared more flexible during telephone interviews Wednesday.
“I’m ready for us to support that,” Mugggridge said, referring to the resolution passed by Leesburg City Council. “I think that it honors our veterans and we’re going to name every veteran (who died in action).
“It does basically what our original idea was. I want it to quit being something divisive and I support the consensus.”
Frich said he believes the resolution is “consistent with what the vote will be next Tuesday.”
The resolution, he said, accomplishes the core goal of bringing honor to Lee Countians who have served in the military.
Frich said the designation of the highway and the patriotism shown by area residents during the funeral for Sutton has resulted in “unforeseen benefits.”
“It’s served to bind older veterans with younger veterans,” Frich said.
Frich said he hopes to have the joint resolution signed by all entities by Dec. 20.