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Memorial to MLK may be part Vermont

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Associated Press / December 16, 2007

BARRE, Vt. - Barre's granite industry may get a chance to help craft a new memorial to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. after all.

Plans to have a new memorial to King, planned for the National Mall in Washington, outsourced to China have been changed after pressure from Vermont elected officials.

"It's all good news," Barre Mayor Thomas Lauzon said Friday after hearing from the state's three-member congressional delegation that American granite will be used in the $100 million monument.

Lauzon said officials from the Martin Luther King Foundation in Washington will visit Barre to learn more about the area's capabilities in quarrying and sculpting granite.

"We have more master sculptors in Barre than anywhere else in the US," Lauzon said. He said the monument plans call for a massive amount of granite, meaning it's likely Barre's famed gray stone will make up at least some of the memorial.

Barre may still face stiff competition from Georgia, which is King's home state.

Michael Briggs, spokesman for Senator Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent, said it appeared that officials with the foundation were surprised by the vehemence of the protests that resulted when it was announced a Chinese sculptor had been chosen to produce the King memorial.

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