Grierson Days chairman says FutureGen not a factor in ending event

By Gary Scott on January 20, 2015 at 7:50am

The organizer of Grierson Days says the proposed FutureGen visitors’ center in Jacksonville’s Community Park was not a factor in the decision to cancel the event.

Ron Gray, the chairman of the Grierson Society, spoke to WLDS-WEAI News yesterday about the decision to end the 19-year-old Civil War Re-enactment, which was made last week by the Grierson Board.

Despite the fact that the building, which would go up if and when FutureGen clears all of the hurdles and begins the carbon-capture sequestration project in Morgan County, would take up space that’s been used for Grierson Days purposes, Gray says there were other factors.

“The committee has been running it for 19 years. It was just time,” Gray says.

“We had a great year last year, and we just decided it was time to discontinue the event. Nineteen years is a long time to be involved in something, and I think the committee felt that it was time for a rest for everybody, including the event. It was very successful for 19 years, and we thought we would leave it ona high note,” he continues.

The FutureGen visitors’ center was first proposed in 2013; Jacksonville aldermen gave FutureGen a vote of confidence to proceed with its plans in July of that year. The site would go up on a five-acre tract of land, with a portion of the building constructed underground.

Gray, who lives with his wife in the former home of General Benjamin Grierson, says he’ll always remember the people he has met over the years through the event.

“Wonderful re-enactors, the sponsors that we had, all of the community people that stepped up, providing us with the finances to put it on. It cost us about $15,000 a year to run it, sometimes more, depending on how many people we hired and what all expenses we had,” Gray says.

“But, the fact is, we met a lot of great people from Jacksonville, from all over the Midwest.”

Several thousand people were estimated to attend the event last year.

General Grierson lived in Jacksonville. He led an important raid in 1863 for the Union against the Confederacy in Tennessee and Louisiana.