After being demolished in June last year, the Leongatha cenotaph is being restored to its former glory but it seems there’s a battle or two still to be fought.

CAN you spell Afghanistan?

Seems that neither the contractor who repaired the Leongatha cenotaph nor the South Gippsland Shire Council can spell A-F-G-H-A-N-I-S-T-A-N either.

They’ve left out the letter ‘h’.

Easy to do, you might say, but not advisable when you’re erecting a monument to your own limitations in the middle of town.

Someone is bound to notice, and someone has.

The shire has been contacted this week and has issued a statement.

“Just to confirm the spelling mistake is that Afghanistan is missing the ‘h’. These are the details we have of the spelling error and associated info:

“Council has contacted the contractor to advise of the mistake and works are being arranged for the stone to be replaced with one of the correct spelling at no extra charge.

“This project is being managed by Council and the replacement cost for this project is about $25,000 which is being paid for through accident insurance,” said a spokesperson for the shire.

But that’s not the only problem with the replacement of the cenotaph, demolished in an accident on June 13 last year when an out-of-control car, driven by an 86-year-old local man careered down the footpath and right through the granite obelisk.

An accusation has been levelled at the South Gippsland Shire that they (1.) let the contract for the work out of the area when they had a competitive, if not less expensive, competent local tenderer applying for the work, and (2.) that they ignored the possible sensitivities of causing the outside contractor to use Chinese granite in the monument when Australian ‘Harcourt’ stone was readily available.

Making the allegations is Korumburra stonemason Barry Wakley, a man highly experienced in this work.

“My quote for the repair work was around $16,000 and because it was an important monument for the local community, I dramatically reduced the cost as a gesture to the community,” said Barry this week.

“I would estimate that getting the stone from China would have cost in the order of $20,000 alone.

“I can’t see how the outside contractor could possibly come in under my quote.”

Barry believes he may have been ruled out of doing the work for some other reason not associated with the project.

The shire has been asked to comment on his claims.

The shire has made arrangements for the spelling mistake to be repaired and other work associated with placing the names of service personnel back on the monument will follow soon.