OKTIBBEHA COUNTY — The Cross of Christ for Starkville is looking to find a location outside Starkville city limits.
Nonprofit group The Cross of Christ for Starkville is a growing organization hoping to erect a 120-foot cross along a highway somewhere in the county.
The group first wanted to build the structure on private property beside the USDA office on Highway 25 in Starkville, President Bob Daniels said, but city building and zoning requirements prevented it. The group’s board of directors voted earlier this year to seek locations outside of city limits and is currently looking for a site in the county, where there are no building codes.
“Right now we are still searching for a site where we can put the cross,” Daniels said. “Earlier on, we felt we had a spot in the city. Turns out, the requirements of the city’s zoning and planning ordinance were going to cost us too much, so we decided we would go outside the city.”
He said he would like to find a location somewhere along a large highway, such as Highway 25 or Highway 82.
“We want this to be as visible as possible, and we want it to be accessible to people so they can go to it and use it for meditation or prayer or other spiritual reasons you might say,” Daniels said.
The organization hopes to collect $250,000 to fund the cross. As of Tuesday, the group’s GoFundMe page had over $45,000 raised. Once the group finds a location, Daniels said he hopes to have multiple fundraising pushes to reach the organization’s goal.
Several crosses such as these appear throughout the state of Mississippi, with the closest being in Eupora. Daniels said one recently was built in Booneville, and one was completed in Ripley just last week.
Daniels said other groups who sought to build these crosses took nearly two years to find a site, so he is confident his organization will find somewhere soon.
“We know we’ll build it here,” Daniels said. “There’s no question about that. We’re in good shape. We have a solid organization. Our money is increasing, and we get more and more interest each month it seems. I just feel really good about where we are.”
Daniels said he has received overall positive feedback about the cross being placed in the county, especially from the Oktibbeha County board of supervisors.
Though the cross would be on private property, all county supervisors told The Dispatch they are in favor of a cross being built, except for District 5 Supervisor Joe Williams, who did not respond to calls by press time.
District 2 Supervisor Orlando Trainer said he supports the group’s efforts and believes a cross will give Oktibbeha residents a symbol of hope.
“In times like these, we need much prayer and something of hope that people can look to,” Trainer said. “In my opinion, it is better suited in the county due to few restrictions. I pray that it has the impact to enhance our community and give people encouragement to press on.”
District 1 Supervisor John Montgomery echoed Trainer’s support, saying he is in favor of it being erected in the county.
“I don’t have a problem with it going into our county,” Montgomery said. “What better symbol is there to represent Oktibbeha County.”