May 8, 2007

Final touches on monogram gazebo complete

by Dave Thompson, News Reporter
The monogram—the most eye catching extension of Liberty’s identity—is finished “for now,” at least according to Vice Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr. The total cost, according to Falwell Jr., was “about the same as one modern billboard or one digital reader board sign.”

In dollars and cents, approximately $120,000 was raised from the selling of roughly 130 acres of timber, which were taken from the back side of the mountain. After the monogram’s completion, a few new features were added, namely a gazebo at the top and hiking trails leading up to the area.

“I would hope that students will increase their use of the many miles of new trails,” said Falwell Jr., adding that the trails are “wide, well-built and excellent for hiking or mountain biking.”

Student reaction to the gazebo, which was moved from Liberty Village, has been largely positive. Students are using the gazebo for quiet, outdoor Bible study, according to Falwell Jr., and the surrounding trails have been used for exercise and recreation.

“I run the trails myself and see people out there all the time running, hiking, mountain biking and hanging out at the gazebo,” said Lee Beaumont, Liberty’s Director of Auxiliary Services.

He noted that the degree of difficulty and length differs from trail to trail, and that some of Liberty’s running and exercise classes are utilizing them.

“We are currently mapping the trails with GPS,” Beaumont said. Printed maps are also in the works, though they haven’t been released yet. Once the maps have been completed, Beaumont and Dr. David Horton will mark the trails in a format similar to the markings on the Appalachian Trail. Beaumont said that the mapping will take time because all of the trails need to be hiked, and dense tree cover would interfere with the signal from the GPS.

Of the nearly 30 miles of trails on the mountain, Beaumont said that about six miles are roads similar to the one in front of the monogram, and the remaining mileage is taken up with hiking, running and biking trails.

“There are plans to add more biking trails in the future,” he said.

The monogram has been touted as being visible from anywhere in Lynchburg, and some future plans for it have been speculated, but none have been implemented yet. There is speculation that Liberty Athletics will use the symbol as a tool for publicity.

“Some say we should find a way to light the monogram during night games.

Others have suggested that a huge flame should emerge from the ‘LU’ when the team scores a touchdown but, for now, we are still brainstorming,” Falwell said.

Can the gazebo be seen from as far away as the monogram can? “It depends on your eyesight,” said Falwell.

Contact Dave Thompson at dbthompson@liberty.edu.
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