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  Comments (18) Total Thursday Apr. 24, 2014
 
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Montana Local & State PoliticsMontana Local & State Politics
Whitefish Jesus Statue to Get Legislative Hearing
Rehberg proposing land swap to protect memorial
Skiers stop momentarily near the statue of Jesus near the top of Chair 2 on Big Mountain last season. - File photo by Lido Vizzutti/Flathead Beacon
Republican Congressman Denny Rehberg announced on Jan. 27 that his legislation to protect the Jesus statue at Whitefish Mountain Resort will be given a legislative hearing in the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forest and Public Lands.

The hearing is scheduled for 7 a.m. Mountain Standard Time on Feb. 3. Rehberg, according to a press release, will testify on the first panel. Charlie Harball, Kalispell city attorney and acting city manager, will testify on behalf of the Knights of Columbus on the second panel.

The fate of the Jesus statue, a veterans memorial located on a small parcel of U.S. Forest Service land within Whitefish Mountain Resort boundaries, became a national storyline and hot-button topic of discussion in local circles last fall after the Forest Service initially announced it planned to withdraw the statue's permit. The agency declared the statue an inappropriate use of public land.

The Forest Service withdrew its decision to deny the permit, though the statue's future remained uncertain. Rehberg proposed a land swap to ensure the statue would stay where it has been since the 1950s. The legislative hearing is an important step in order for Rehberg's proposal to come to fruition.

“We all hope that the Forest Service will do the right thing and listen to the overwhelming public support for keeping the memorial right where it is,” Rehberg said in a release. “This memorial to World War II veterans has brought people together across north west Montana, and across America. And I’m going to fight hard to protect it because of what it means to the local community and to those who served our country. If the Forest Service doesn’t make the right decision, this hearing means my legislative solution will be ready to go at a moment’s notice.”
 
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On 02-01-12, Kokanee commented....
I cannot even believe this is an issue…....!
 
Kellyn Brown
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