MIDDLESBORO, Ky. (AP) - An old artillery piece that overlooks Middlesboro has been at the center of a custody dispute for decades.
But the veterans group and the private landowners arguing over the antique weapon have finally reached a treaty of sorts by settling a federal lawsuit in the matter.
Under the deal, the local American Legion Dewey Guy Post No. 14 can display the gun at the Middlesboro-Bell County airport near a tank and a Korean War jet. The post will place a bronze plaque on the gun acknowledging the contributions of members of the Wilbur Givens' family in protecting and honoring the weapon for many years, said attorneys for the two sides.
"Here I think you have everyone winning," said J.P. "Pete" Cline III, a Middlesboro attorney who represents the post. "It will be in a much better location for public display."
U.S. District Judge Danny C. Reeves signed a ruling early this month dismissing the lawsuit.
The post had argued that sometime after it moved from its headquarters - where the gun had been parked since 1948 - and sold
the property in 1963, the new owner, Wilbur Givens, refused to give
post members the gun.
"He just didn't want anyone to come up there and get the gun," James L. Rousey, a longtime member of the post, said in a 1992 court document.
The dispute continued with the next generation of the Givens family, which argued that the post abandoned the gun.
Members of the post helped pick up the gun last week, hitching it to a pickup to pull to its headquarters. The post will have the gun repaired, sandblasted and painted the original Army green before putting it on display, said Tom Howerton, commander of the post.
Members are glad to get the gun back, he said.
"It's just a part of our heritage," Howerton said. "We're going to be taking care of it pretty good."
There's some question whether the gun is an artifact of World War I or World War II.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved