Court: Complaints moot as historical commission has final say on statue
After weeks of silence from Commissioners Court members about the Denton County Confederate Soldier Memorial, residents who take issue with the statue are changing their rhetoric and asking commissioners to place it on the agenda and discuss it in open court.
County Judge Mary Horn said the court had already engaged in public discussion on the memorial years ago. Moreover, she said the complaints to the court are moot because the Texas Historical Commission has final say on any and all matters involving the statue.
“This is something that has been done,” Horn said. “If it’s not within the commissioners’ authority to move it, take it down, to do what anyone asked, I guess I am back to my original question. To accomplish what? To make them feel better?
“Anyone that wants to come talk to me about it, I would be glad to talk to them. We have all kinds of historical data on it.”
Changes to State Antiquities Landmarks or courthouse grounds that involve construction or demolition generally require a permit to be issued by the Texas Historical Commission before they can proceed, according to Alicia Downard, a spokeswoman for the commission.
Michael Hunt, owner of San Antonio-based Hunt Restorations, said it could take about five days and cost about $15,000 to dismantle and reinstall Denton’s Confederate monument, provided that crews could haul it to a nearby location.
Horn said county officials are looking at adding a QR code to the plaque on the statue that would link to — through a phone app — historically accurate data, but said that proposal would have to be approved by the historical commission as well.
On that possibility, Downard said, “The decision to install plaques and interpretive signage is determined by the building owner and does not require a permit by the Texas Historical Commission, though the owner may consult our agency for review.”
Horn said residents who have been commenting on the statue in recent weeks were likely not in Denton when it was a posted agenda item years ago. Despite the furor surrounding the statue and ones like it around the country, Horn is not inclined to indulge those making the requests to place it on the Commissioners Court agenda.
In public comments Tuesday, Ron Seifert said it would be great to have a conversation on the record and get the community engaged in a public dialogue about race in the state. Willie Hudspeth, a community activist who has been speaking out against the monument for years, spoke again as well as resident Cindy Spoon.
Kacie Ishmael spoke last and identified herself as a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
She said the statue is for the soldiers who fought and died during the Civil War and the Courthouse on the Square is the right place for it.
“Where would we move it to? No one is really going to want it on their property with all that is going on,” Ishmael said. “It’s pointless to really speak about it because it’s a protected monument. We need to just move on to something else and forget about all the racism or what you think is racist or whatever, because I am not racist and I feel like a lot of people nowadays aren’t racists.”
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875 and via Twitter at @BjLewisDRC.