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Architect Bill Dixon designed this conceptual plan for an officer memorial at the Watauga County Sheriff's Office. Click images at bottom of article to view larger.

Originally published: 2012-11-09 16:10:19
Last modified: 2012-11-09 16:14:50

County plans fallen officer memorial

When Deputy William Mast was killed in the line of duty in July, the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office didn’t even have a flagpole on which to put a flag at half-staff.

That got the department and county staff thinking, and plans are now under way for a memorial space outside the sheriff’s office to honor all fallen Watauga County law enforcement officers.

“It’s probably long overdue,” said Sheriff Len Hagaman, mentioning that other local agencies also have lost officers in the past. “I’m glad that we’re doing it. It’s unfortunate why we have to do it. I think it’s a tribute to all law enforcement throughout the United States.”

The county began working with Bill Dixon of Appalachian Architecture to formulate an initial design plan, which will go before the Board of Commissioners at its meeting Tuesday.

Hagaman said several officers combined to come up with a rough plan that incorporated plaques or medallions to represent each local law enforcement agency.

The space also may include benches, flagpoles and some type of display on which to put the names of fallen officers, he said.

Dixon said he incorporated those ideas and others to come up with the proposal.

The memorial will be created in a grassy area in front of the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office on Oak Grove Road. Dixon’s plan includes bushes and plants to buffer the area from the road and from the jail.

“This is, to me, more meaningful than a lot of buildings,” Dixon said. “It could be a place of celebration and solemnity.”

County Manager Deron Geouque said work on the memorial would likely begin in spring 2013.

Because the sheriff’s office is located in Boone’s extra-territorial jurisdiction, the proposal also will need to go before the Town Council.

“We will have to follow those rules and regulations, so it’s probably going to be a little bit more involved than a typical project would be,” Geouque said.

Dixon said he has experience in working on memorials of this type and is pleased to work on the conceptual plan.

“I think it’ll be great,” Dixon said. “The sheriff’s department needs something, and we need something to recognize these individuals and officers.”

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