05/05/04 — War plaques recovered from burned building

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War plaques recovered from burned building

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on May 5, 2004 2:12 PM

Plaques in the Community Building honoring Wayne County veterans killed in battle have been saved, officials said.

The plaques were just inside the front door of the Wayne County Memorial Community Building that burned Sunday. They had the names of the dead from World War I up to Vietnam.

The lead police investigator, Sgt. David Kelly, said today that all but two of the plaques survived the fire undamaged. The other two had been bent but could be repaired, Kelly said.

WW I Memorial Plaques

News-Argus/Kaye Nesbit

City workers, from left, Ted Jernigan, Ricky Reid and Marion Bradford stand with plaques retrieved from the burned-out Community Building.

Kelly said a Goldsboro Recreation Department crew had recovered the plaques Tuesday. Recreation Director Neil Bartlett said that his department had a list of names of the plaque recipients, so it could tell that all the plaques had been saved.

Several paintings in the building were destroyed, Kelly said.

The building was constructed in 1925 as a memorial to World War I veterans. The plaques also honored World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War dead.

Charlie Gaylor, a lawyer in Goldsboro, said the plaques were a big part of the building, and it is wonderful that they were saved. He hopes the next step will be building it back from within. The building's outside walls were made completely of brick.

He said the building means a lot to the citizens of Goldsboro and Wayne County, and many people realize its importance even more since the fire.

George Carberry, second vice commander with the American Legion Wayne Post 11, said the plaques mean a great deal, because they honor those from Wayne County who were killed in battle.

"I'm sure all of the veterans in the county are glad and proud that the plaques were recovered," he added.

State Sen. John Kerr, who is on the board of the Wayne County Memorial Association that oversees the building, said that saving the plaques was good news.

"All the historical plaques have been removed from the building and are safe and secure," he said.

The fire Sunday caused an estimated $1.5 million in damages to the 79-year-old structure and $50,000 to the contents, officials said today.

The brick building at 239 E. Walnut St. was valued at $1.7 million. That figure was $100,000 more than it was in 2001 when it was damaged in a smaller fire.

The damage figures were announced today by the Fire Department after consulting with Bartlett.

Special Agent John Rea of the State Bureau of Investigation declared Tuesday that lightning did not cause the fire.

Kelly declined comment on the cause or point of origin of the fire. He did say interviews were being conducted.

Kelly accompanied several pieces of evidence to the SBI lab. He said he did not know when the lab analysis and report would be completed.