© 2024 Blue Ridge Public Radio
Blue Ridge Mountains banner background
Your source for information and inspiration in Western North Carolina.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Sylva Bans Confederate Imagery On Town Property

Lilly Knoepp
Blue Ridge Public Radio
"Sylva Sam" stands on the Old Jackson County Courthouse steps. On Friday, the steps were already blocked off to prepare for a demonstration to remove the statue on Saturday.

The Town of Sylva Board of Commissioners passed a resolution on Thursday to prohibit Confederate imagery on town vehicles and property. Currently, the old Jackson County Courthouse including the Confederate soldier statue which stands in front of the building, is featured on town vehicles and Sylva Police badges. 


These items won’t be replaced immediately but resolution states that the imagery won’t be featured on anything purchased after July 10. Commissioner Ben Guieny brought up the resolution. It passed 4 -1. Commissioner Mary Gelbaugh voted against the resolution.  


“To me the glorification of the Confederacy is a bad image to have in your community.”


That’s Commissioner David Nestler. He voted for the resolution. He says that he thinks that the Confederacy is something that could be memorialized but that it is not a time period to celebrate. 


“I don’t think it's appropriate anywhere to have a monument to the confederacy,” says Nestler, who is from Jackson County. “Because a monument and a memorial are two very different things. A memorial is a somber reminder of a sacrifice. While a monument glorifies something.” 


At the commissioner’s meeting, Nestler brought up a new resolution to remove the statue from the town limits. 


“The big picture is the shadow of that statue on our town. And it’s really the only context that matters. I think that if you want to put it in its proper context, that has to be someplace else,” says Nestler. 


The town commissioners are slated to vote on this resolution at its meeting July 23. The Jackson County commissioners are expected to make a recommendation about the statue on July 14. 


At the county commissioner's recent meeting, about 11 residents voiced their opinions against the removal of the statue, known as “Sylva Sam.” 


On Saturday, two demonstrations - one for and one against - the removal of the statue are scheduled.


Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Commissioner Barbara Hamiltion voted against the resolution. This was incorrect. Commissioner Mary Gelbaugh was the single vote against the resolution.


Lilly Knoepp is Senior Regional Reporter for Blue Ridge Public Radio. She has served as BPR’s first fulltime reporter covering Western North Carolina since 2018. She is from Franklin, NC. She returns to WNC after serving as the assistant editor of Women@Forbes and digital producer of the Forbes podcast network. She holds a master’s degree in international journalism from the City University of New York and earned a double major from UNC-Chapel Hill in religious studies and political science.
Related Content