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"Charters of Freedom" hopeful for Nash

An educational, non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the history of the United States is hoping Nash County will agree to placing the "Charters of Freedom" on the grounds of the Nash County Courthouse.

Nashville Mayor Donald Street, along with Town Manager Randy Lansing and local U.S. History Teacher Renny Taylor brought the idea before commissioners on Monday during the board's regular meeting.

Street said Taylor had approached him with the idea and since the courthouse is county property, he suggested Taylor contact County Manager Zee Lamb.

"I'm here supporting him," Street said. "Hopefully we can find somewhere for this."

The Founding Fathers authored the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Those documents became known as "The Charters of Freedom."

The Foundation Forward, Inc. builds Charters of Freedom settings in communities across the country.

Taylor told commissioners that he was contacted by the organization to do lesson plans for their national organization. In learning more about what the organization did, Taylor said he thought it would be something great for Nashville.

"I just thought getting these settings here in Nashville was a no brainer," he added.

The Foundation was started in 2011 by a couple, Vance and Mary Jo Patterson, who were in Washington, D.C. and decided to go the National Archives because they'd never seen the Declaration of Independence and Constitution.

After returning home, the couple began to think about the experience and wonder how they could duplicate it for the citizens of Burke County, where they live.

In 2013, they started Foundation Forward, Inc. to help promote civics education and preserve American history.

Since then, they have gifted through the foundation a total of 18 settings across the country. The long-term goal is to place as many Charters of Freedom settings in as many communities as possible over the next 10 years.

Taylor said there were some requirements from the Foundation. The settings need to be in a public, high traffic area so people can easily visit.

"It does have to be open to the public," he added. "It does have to have foot traffic."

Taylor said he felt like the area the courthouse was in would be ideal.

"It has parking for it, it's a short walk from the parking area," Taylor added.

Taylor said no tax dollars are required for the settings to be built. He said in-kind gifts are accepted, such as using the town or counties equipment tor manpower.

"There's no tax dollars involved and that's the great thing," Taylor said. "It's all through the Foundation."

Local businesses would be approached to see if they want to contribute to the project, Taylor added.

"They would go around trying to see if local business people would like to contribute and would sell pavers on the front with people's names on it," he said. "That's how they raise money for that."

Taylor said if the county were interesting, a representative from the Foundation would speak at another county board meeting to give additional information. A steering committee would also be set up that would include people from the Foundation as well as local residents and county and/or town staff. A final proposal would then be presented to commissioners that would be have to be accepted before the Charters of Freedom settings are constructed.

Taylor said the settings are designed to last 200 to 300 years and the glass is bullet proof. The documents, he added are brass plated.

Mayor Street said he was fully supportive of the idea.

"We're just in support of this, public documents like this," he said. "They are really obscure."

Commissioners were in agreement to move forward with the process.

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