An initiative to rename portions of N.C. 24 as Gold Star Highway, in honor of this state and nation’s veterans, has received local support in the form of a resolution by the Sampson County Board of Commissioners.
The United States began observing Gold Star Mother’s Day on the last Sunday of September in 1936, the Gold Star Wives was formed prior to the end of World War II and the Gold Star Lapel Button was established in August of 1947.
“The nation, the State of North Carolina and this county recognize the sacrifice that Gold Star family members make when a loved one dies in service to the nation,” the resolution states. “North Carolina is home to no less than seven major military installations as well as nearly 1 million current or former military service members and is one of the most military friendly states.”
The Sampson board “fully supports the efforts of the North Carolina Department of Transportation to rename portions of North Carolina Highway 24 the Gold Star Highway,” it concludes.
Greg Gebhardt, who works for N.C. Rep. David Lewis of Harnett County, spearheaded the effort at the outset. As an Iraq War veteran, he took on the project for Lewis’ office at the request of a Gold Star mother living in Lewis’ district. Mark Coggins is now managing the project for the time being.
In a recent email to Sampson officials, Coggins said $2,000 commitments and resolutions from each of the counties were being sought.
Once all counties have agreed to support the effort, the DOT will then vote on whether or not to accept the recommendation of The Road/Bridge/Ferry Naming Committee, which previously met and is reportedly agreeable to the idea of N.C. 24 being designated a Gold Star Highway from Harnett to Carteret counties.
“To be able to present this to the committee as an official request to vote on, we will need resolutions from each of the counties that N.C. 24 runs through,” Leigh Wing, assistant to the chief engineer for DOT’s Division of Highways, stated. “Additionally, we will need a commitment from each of them to the usual administration fee of $2,000.”
Wing said she discussed the matter with State Traffic Engineer Kevin Lacy and he noted that the actual cost to the DOT for honorary sings exceeds the $2,000 fee when accounting for the signs themselves, sign supports, installation, equipment costs and a dedication ceremony.
“So in asking for that amount from the counties, it will still not be covering the actual entire cost to the department,” Wing noted.
Sampson officials showed support for the effort, but stopped short of pledging money toward it. Coggins said he would work to make up that difference.
“While we certainly appreciate and support efforts to recognize veterans in this manner, the availability of $2,000 in funding would be difficult at this time,” assistant manager Susan Holder said in a correspondence to Coggins. “We are engaged in a 4‐year budget reduction process, and in this upcoming budget, we will not be recommending requests from several equally worthy projects.”
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