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Commissioners consider Confederate monument survey, recognize longtime employee

Two Denton County commissioners voiced caution about a potential countywide survey regarding the Confederate monument on the Square.  

During Tuesday's regular meeting, John Baines, chairman of the 15-member advisory committee on the Confederate monument, said the group wants to distribute a monument survey for all county residents. Members want to gather more responses about the statue from people who typically don't speak at public meetings. 

The committee would use the input to help shape its final recommendation to commissioners. Ultimately, the group will either ask commissioners to remove the statue or add more historical context around it.

Baines said group members still have to hash out the specifics on the survey, but he plans to present more details to commissioners next week. Baines also said he'd have more information about the cost, which he asked the county to cover. 

"I didn't think it was appropriate that committee members bear that cost," he said. 

Commissioner Hugh Coleman said a survey may be outside the scope of what the committee was initially assigned to do. He also reminded Baines of the size of such a survey in Denton County. 

"The way you do a survey can be extremely expensive if you want to touch all 43 communities and a good segment of all 800,000 people," Coleman said. "That's kind of why I thought we'd appointed the committee. But I'd like to see what your proposal is."

Commissioner Andy Eads also mentioned that "who you ask and how you ask it" can greatly affect the results. 

"The survey methodology would have to be closely examined," Eads said. 

The committee will meet twice on Thursday in the Courthouse on the Square. It will hold its regular meeting from 9 to 11 a.m. in the 1896 Room before it holds a special meeting for public input from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Commissioners Courtroom. 

The commissioners meeting started on a bittersweet note Tuesday, as longtime county Budget Officer Donna Stewart's retirement was officially finalized.  

Stewart has been Denton County's only budget officer since the position was created in 1990. Several county employees shed tears during Stewart's emotional farewell, and each commissioner commended her deep institutional knowledge of the budget process. 

Donna StewartDenton County
Donna Stewart
Denton County

She's logged a total of 39 years of service to the county, according to a resolution read in court. 

"You have been a jewel in this county with all your hard work in 39 years," Commissioner Bobbie Mitchell said. "That is a wonderful amount of time to give to a county ... and you've given it with a smile on your face." 

On an unrelated note, all personnel with Denton County Emergency Services will temporarily move Wednesday to the Denton County Elections and Technology Services Building at 701 Kimberly Drive. 

The department's current building, located at 9060 Teasley Lane, is in need of extensive repairs, and county workers need to further examine the property, officials said. 

Some personnel will stay in the current building until 5 p.m. Wednesday to accept permit applications for commercial buildings. The department will be completely moved in by Thursday morning, officials said. 

JULIAN GILL can be reached at 940-566-6882.