Judge does not expect Confederate Monument context to be added until 2019

Judge does not expect Confederate Monument context to be added until 2019

Judge does not expect Confederate Monument context to be added until 2019
May 30
23:51 2018

Denton County Judge Mary Horn does not expect  Confederate monument historical context to be added until 2019 at the earliest, according to an email obtained by the North Texas Daily.

“It’s going to take time,” Horn said. “These things do, which is not making some people happy, but I think it is going to be worth the wait.”

The Confederate monument committee, a 15 person group, met for three months, discussing the statue currently on the square. They brought their unanimous recommendation to the Commissioners Court on February 6, which called for adding historical context to the statue.

Every commissioner accepted the recommendation and they, along with the Denton County Office of History and Culture, started exploring potential avenues for context. The committee’s proposal involved adding a plaque under the archway that declaims slavery and video kiosks on both sides.

When the Office of History and Culture determine the historical context, the Commissioners Court will make the ultimate decision and send a proposal to the Texas Historical Commission.

Horn hopes to have the proposal sent by November receive feedback by February. 

The director of public information and education for the Texas Historical Commission, Chris Florance, said the monument is a state antiquity landmark, which requires permits for anything beyond simple maintenance.

When they get the proposal from the Commissioners Court, the Texas Historical Commission will review it before sending a permit and requesting additional documentation.

“We would be looking at the proposal from the perspective of architectural and historic integrity at the site,” Florance said.

The Confederate monument committee chairman John Baines sent a letter to the Commissioners Court on April 23 highlighting observations, recommendations and promises. Baines asked for bi-weekly or weekly updates on their progress in adding historical context.

“The absence of updates and reported program have left the natives very restless and doubting,” Baines wrote in the letter.

Horn emailed Baines a response on April 26. She wrote that his ideas are “thoughtful, clearly outlined, and to the point.” She said Peggy Riddle, director of the Office of History and Culture, will make any public updates during commissioner court meetings.

The last update was on April 17 and Riddle said she welcomes ideas and information from committee members and the general public.

“I urge anyone who would like to give me some ideas to contact me,” Riddle said.

She wrote that the many agencies involved, fiduciary guidelines, costs, equipment and research will cause the process to be a long one. Horn gave the example of the Denton County All War Memorial, which took “over five years to go from an idea to unveiling.”

The County judge also said Riddle was sidelined by the fire at the Downtown Mini Mall, which damaged the courthouse as well. It took two weeks to send damaged items to conservators.

“The Confederate monument took a back seat to getting those things cleaned up,” Horn said. “It had to be.”

As for the context being discussed Horn is not a fan of outdoor kiosks because they will be hard to see in the sun and subject to vandalism. She recommends a QR code that will direct people to the kiosks inside.

“Putting the kiosks out there is just asking for trouble,” Horn said.

The cost estimate has not been determined, but funding may come from the Texas Historical Commission and donations. Horn does not plan on spending tax money on the project.

 When context is eventually added “most everybody is going to be happy except Willie Hudspeth,” Horn said. Hudspeth is a local activist who has been protesting the monument since 1999.

“They never change and they have never entertained anything than just leaving the statue there,” Hudspeth said.

Horn said he has a right to his opinion and she respects his tenacity.

“I’m not sure what would make Willie Hudspeth satisfied because, from time to time, he asks for different things,” Horn said. “He wants it moved, then he wants it taken down, then he wants more context.”

Hudspeth wants the committee to include more members of the community.

“I would suggest they involve the citizens,” Hudspeth said. “I think things will turn out better if we all talk about [the statue.] I don’t want it to be a selected group that just dictates what they want done.”

Horn said a vast majority of people who contacted her outside of commissioner court meetings wants the statue to be left alone.

“While the committee members and some members of the community may want something to happen immediately, the reality is, it cannot,” Horn wrote in the email. “Everyone just needs to be patient as the process continues.”

Featured Image: The confederate monument on the square has been causing controversy for some time now. The courthouse and surrounding areas are a historical site. Josh Jamison

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Devin Rardin

Devin Rardin

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