Bald Knob transition board meetingheld

An underlying sense of urgency was present when the new Bald Knob Cross of Peace Foundation transition board met last Friday afternoon.

The urgency reflects the deteriorating state of the Union County landmark, which is in need of major repair work.

The new transition board met for the first time on a chilly December day at the welcome center atop Bald Knob Mountain near Alto Pass. Snow flurries were falling when the meeting got underway at about 3:30 p.m.

Members of the new transition board and the cross's former governing body were present for the meeting.

The transition board was created in a court settlement which was announced on Christmas Eve of 2008.

The settlement brought to an end two years of litigation which surrounded the Cross of Peace.

As legal action unfolded, the cross continued to deteriorate. Now, it is hoped that action can be taken quickly to repair and restore the Union County landmark.

Members of the transition board include:

The Rev. Mark Roath, pastor of Anna Heights Baptist Church in Anna.

Dr. Ralph Brandon, senior pastor of Covenant Christian Fellowship in Carterville.

The Rev. Gerald Wright, senior pastor of Spirit of Life Christian Church in Du Quoin.

The Rev. Steven M. McKeown, senior pastor at the Christian Life Center in Herrin.

The Rev. Doug Cherry, senior pastor at Victory Christian Center of Southern Illinois in Carbondale.

Jon Musgrave, executive director of the Southern Illinois Tourism Development Office and a member of Second Baptist Church in Marion.

Bradley Rogers of Buncombe, president of the Southern Illinois chapter of the Christian Motorcylists Association.

All of the new board members were present at the meeting.

One of the first orders of business at Friday afternoon's meeting was a prayer in which God's wisdom was sought so the new organization could move forward.

The transition board then elected officers.

Steve McKeown was elected as president. Dr. Ralph Brandon was elected as vice president.

Jon Musgrave was elected as secretary. Bradley Rogers was elected as treasurer.

The transition board approved a resolution of gratitude and appreciation. The resolution recognized former board members and called for a "humble acceptance of authority" by the members of the new governing body.

Three temporary committees were created, including an events committee, a finance committee and an organizational structure and bylaws committee.

"We're going to go forward in the best way that we know how," new transition board president Steve McKeown said.

 The transition board approved a proposal by Dr. Ralph Brandon to have a Bald Knob Cross prayer event. Brandon said he would like to see the event held "sooner, rather than later," given the situation of the cross "at this critical time."

Terms of the settlement called for former board members to resign. The former members, and others who are interested in the future of the cross, will be able to help the transition board in its efforts.

"We want everybody involved in this," McKeown said.

McKeown said that the transition board would be working for the good of the cross and, in consideration of actions surrounding the landmark in recent years, in was the intent "to let bygones be bygones."

"We're going to start pretty much from this day forward," he said. "We're going to really focus on the future."

One of the board's first steps will be to secure the services of a structural engineeer and a metallurgist so the state of the cross can be determined.

The board also may consider the possibility of having a live-on-site caretaker at Bald Knob.

For those who anticipate going to Bald Knob for an annual Easter sunrise service, that tradition will continue this year, it was reported at Friday's meeting.

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