War, peace, cameras: Monroe County courthouse monuments cleaned, repaired for July 4 ceremony

Set to be the main event for Monday’s July 4 celebration at the Monroe County courthouse is the rededication of the 35-foot-tall Alexander Memorial.

The memorial was built in 1928 to honor Monroe County’s veterans of all wars.

The iconic monument, which stands on the southeast corner of the courthouse square, was refurbished in April of this year, by cleaning it and installing eight new limestone panels. The original panels, some of which are now on display inside the courthouse rotunda, had deteriorated in the nearly 100 years since it was first constructed.

Signs have been posted on the courthouse lawn announcing that the space is reserved for the July 4 activities.

The Alexander Memorial needed some additional cleaning on Tuesday this week. The base of the monument, below the recently installed new panels, was spray-painted with slogans supporting reproductive rights.

On Tuesday afternoon crew from Wells Masonry, the same company that installed the new panels, slathered solvent on phrases like “Abortion is not murder” “My body, my choice,” and “Abort the court,” and let it soak for a half hour, before power-washing the limestone surfaces clean.

The slogan’s reference to the “court” is to the recent Supreme Court of the United States ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade, the decision that had found abortion to be a constitutional right. The ruling has prompted protests in Bloomington.

In addition to the unanticipated cleaning of the Alexander Memorial, two other monuments on the courthouse grounds got some attention that has been needed for a while—the World War II monument, and the peace memorial.

On Wednesday, a craftsman from Accent Limestone used epoxy to reattach the grenade-wielding right arm of the soldier in the World War II monument. The World War II statue stands on the northeast corner of the courthouse square.

Also getting a needed repair this week was the peace monument, which was missing the statue’s left arm, which holds aloft a dove. The statue, with its arm and dove, is again whole.

The peace memorial, which stands to the southwest of the courthouse, was dedicated on Nov. 29, 2013 to Warren Henegar, a former county commissioner and county councilor. The plaque on the monument reads in part:

Warren served his country during WW II in the Pacific.
He returned believing that some wars were justified,
but all efforts to bring peace to the world far
outweighed arguments attempting to justify war.
Warren was a constant advocate for peace
and nonviolent resolutions.

Monroe County sheriffs are investigating the spraypainting of the Alexander Memorial, based in part on footage from surveillance cameras mounted on the courthouse building.

That’s a system that was newly installed in January 2020, along with an upgrade to the interior surveillance cameras. Approval of the $15,500 contact with B-Tech for the surveillance system came at the Dec. 18, 2019 meeting of the board of county commissioners.

It’s the facilities manager and the head of the technical services department (TSD) who have routine access to courthouse cameras/footage, according to Greg Crohn, who is the new head of technical services. He is the former fleet and facilities manager, who is replacing outgoing TSD head Eric Evans.

Responding to an emailed question, Crohn wrote that camera footage is normally retained for about 60 days. But that varies depending on the amount of foot traffic in the area of a given camera. Recordings of theft, or vandalism are kept until the investigation is complete and the case has been closed or dismissed, Crohn wrote.

The seasonal red-white-and-blue bunting that has been added to the courthouse building has been folded back, away from the exterior surveillance cameras, so that the camera view is not obscured.

The rededication ceremony is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. Monday morning. Bloomington’s July 4 parade is supposed to start at 10 a.m.