CHICOD, N.C. (WNCT) — People in Chicod are talking about the move of a Confederate monument that was taken down from the Pitt County Courthouse last year.

The controversy comes after Pitt County commissioners decided to gift the statue to a local nonprofit of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, which plans to place it on property owned by former Pitt County Commissioner Ephraim Smith. The property is located on N.C. Highway 43 in the Chicod area.

After the statue was taken down from in front of the Pitt County Courthouse last summer, commissioners decided to form a committee to decide what to do with it. Smith was a member of that committee. He said then he would be willing to put it on his land. 

Smith and some in the community say this is a way to preserve history.

“Some people maybe look at it as a division in the world today but I don’t look at it that way. I look at it as it’s a part of history regardless of how bad that history was at the time,” Smith said.

This move doesn’t sit well with some residents in the area, like Robert Whitaker, a pastor in Chicod.

“People of color in the community, that statue doesn’t mean anything to us except for slavery,” Whitaker said. “I just don’t think it’s a fitting place in this community, near schools.”

Pitt County Commissioner Tom Coulson said the statue won’t be immediately visible but that could change soon.

“Well, it won’t be visible, there’s a lot of trees in between,” Coulson said. “Highway 43, at some point, is going to be widened to four lanes. Off the main road, you’ll probably have to go out of your way to look for it.”

Commissioners tell 9OYS this is not a done deal. They are waiting for legal paperwork before approving the motion to gift the Confederate monument to the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Whitaker and Smith also planned on having a conversation Wednesday to talk about the placement of the monument.

Commissioners say they’ll move forward depending on how that talk goes. If the Sons of Confederate Veterans or Smith change their minds, then the county commissioners will reconvene the committee to discuss what needs to be re-evaluated.