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Memorial can stay as is, Johnson told

By Staff | Jul 19, 2009

A roadside memorial for Josh Johnson located along a county highway will not have to be removed afterall.

Although Craig Johnson has nothing in writing, he says Faribault County Commission Chairman Tom Loveall has assured him his son’s memorial may remain intact.

“They’ve decided to leave it alone. He (Loveall) said they’ve caused enough problems and discontent,” Johnson says.

That’s news to Commissioner Butch Erichsrud, who represents the district where the memorial is located.

Erichsrud says he hasn’t discussed the matter with anyone and is not aware of any agreement.

“For some reason the Johnsons don’t care to sit down and talk to me,” he says. “I think I should be involved. It’s in my district. It would be to their best interest if I were included.”

In June, Johnson received a letter from the county asking the memorial be removed because of safety concerns for motorists.

Johnson discussed the matter with County Engineer John McDonald and agreed to take down some lights at the site.

Johnson then contacted a couple of commissioners.

He first tried calling Loveall, who represents District 4, the district he lives in.

Unable to talk with Loveall, Johnson called Commissioner John Roper to try and find a solution to his problem.

Johnson says he and Roper had a nice discussion and the commissioner suggested a compromise.

“He thought I should make it a little smaller. I didn’t want to,” says Johnson. “I was going to hold my ground as long as I could and fight to keep it the way it is.”

Although he listened to Johnson’s concerns, Roper says he’s reluctant to get involved because Johnson lives in Loveall’s district and the memorial is in Erichsrud’s.

“I won’t interfere because I don’t like getting my nose bloodied over this,” Roper says, who is the commissioner for District 1.

The controversy has county officials examining the need for a policy regulating memorials.

The next step, says Roper, likely will be formation of a committee to work with the Public Works Department to develop guidelines.

“I feel there should be a way people can honor and memorialize the loss of a loved one. You should be able to do that, if you want to,” he says.

Several attempts to contact Loveall were unsuccessful and McDonald requested all questions be directed to the commissioners.