Columbus Lions table plans for rebuilding cross

Published 7:39 pm Thursday, September 15, 2011

Since the Columbus Lions’ cross on Tryon Peak was destroyed almost 2½ years ago, club members have been investigating ways in which the cross might be rebuilt. After hitting one road block after another, they have with much regret voted to table the project indefinitely.

Changing bulbs on the Lions’ cross on Tryon Peak in 2005. (photo submitted)

The Lions’ Cross shone from Tryon Peak every Easter and Christmas season for more than 50 years. It withstood many storms in addition to challenges from the American Civil Liberties Union, but it did not survive the work crew from Crown Castle Corporation (owner of the communications tower on Tryon Peak) that removed it from their tower during the Easter season of 2009.
The Lions did not know why the cross lights went out until they drove up the mountain and found the structure had disappeared overnight. When contacted, Crown Castle explained that they had recently purchased the tower and had removed the cross when they found no lease or paperwork authorizing the cross to be mounted there. They stated that they were in the process of making structural repairs to the tower and the added weight of the cross may have contributed to the problems.
Although the Lions had a rent-free agreement with the previous owner of the tower, they had no legal claim once the tower was sold to Crown Castle. Crown Castle did offer to provide a piece of their land on Tryon Peak if the Lions wished to build a tower of their own.
The problems the Lions encountered when they considered building their own tower went far beyond cost. After investigation, they learned that any tower they constructed would be regulated by the Federal Communications Corporation, the Federal Aviation Authority and N.C. Ridge Law. In addition to discovering laws regarding light pollution, they also learned that only communications and emergency systems towers can exceed 40 feet in height, which would be insufficient for the cross. Therefore, the Lions abandoned the hope of building a tower themselves.
Then an individual came forward and offered to allow the Lions to mount the cross on a communications tower he would be constructing on Brushy Ridge of Hogback Mountain. Unfortunately, the option was eliminated when it was determined that a cross at that location would not be visible in the Columbus area. At this point, the Lions concluded they had no choice other than to table indefinitely any plans for rebuilding the cross.
Money remaining in the cross fund will be used for other local Lions service projects. Citizens can contact the Columbus Lions at P.O. Box 121, Columbus, N.C. 28722.
– article submitted
by Helen Trevathan

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