Update on Lions Tryon Peak cross

Published 3:40 pm Monday, June 28, 2010

Columbus Lion Roger Newman reports that the Lions are continuing in their efforts to return the lighted cross to Tryon Peak. As chairman of the Cross Committee, Newman reports that he has reached a verbal agreement with Crown Castle, Inc. for a long-term lease. Crown Castle owns the land on Tryon Peak as well as the tower on which the former cross was mounted.

This lease would provide land on which the Lions could build a new tower for their cross. The lease has been offered at no charge by Crown Castle and the company is also providing the legal services to have the lease drawn up. The Lions hope this paperwork will be completed in the near future.

There are more issues with which Newman must contend besides the acquisition of land. The 1983 North Carolina Ridge Law as well as the 2009 local Ridge Laws and the Federal Communications Commission all have regulations which must be met before a new tower can be erected.

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In addition, Newman has been negotiating with a contractor who will build the new tower and mount the new cross hardware for an estimated cost of $65,000. Although the Lions will not be accepting donations until all plans are finalized, the club says any pledges of assistance will be appreciated. Newman expresses his appreciation for the strong community support the Lions continue to receive.

In its more than 50-year history, the cross on Tryon Peak has faced many challenges including frequent weather damage and a complaint from the North Carolina Civil Liberties Union (NCCLU). This complaint was filed In 1987 when the NCCLU said the cross a Christian symbol should not be mounted on a state-owned tower. Under pressure, the Lions Club was forced to take the cross down.

This might have been the end of the Tryon Peak Cross had not Mr. Edward Bagwell, now deceased, contributed space on his communications tower for construction of a new cross. Through the years the tower ownership changed hands several times, but the cross was always there lit at Christmas and Easter until it was removed by Crown Castle during the 2009 Easter season.

Initially, the Lions thought the cross could return to the tower once structural repairs had been completed. However, they were later told that for legal and structural reasons, the cross would need to be on its own tower.

Anyone wanting to contact the Columbus Lions regarding the cross can reach Roger Newman at 828-859-3154 or write to the Columbus Lions Club at P.O. Box 121, Columbus, N.C. 28722.