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Monument committee chairman: Public may observe meetings in orderly manner

The chairman of Denton County's Confederate monument committee said all future meetings will be open to the public for observation, as long as attendees maintain order in the room. 

Although commissioners previously have said the committee would not be subject to open meetings laws, committee chairman John Baines said the members decided to leave them open after a "spirited debate." 

John BainesDenton Record Chronicle
John Baines
Denton Record Chronicle

The committee, made up of 10 county residents, had its second meeting Tuesday morning in the 1896 Room of the Courthouse on the Square. Members continued their discussion about the fate of Denton's highly contentious Confederate monument, which for months has been the source of heated discussion in commissioners meetings. 

During the first meeting last week, committee members introduced themselves and elected Baines, who owns a local tax and consulting service, as the chairman. They also elected former Lewisville city council member Ronni Cade as vice chair. 

Baines will give commissioners an update on the committee's progress during their weekly Tuesday meetings. He said the members are now trying to dig into the origins of the statue. More specifically, they're trying to learn more about its intended purpose when it was first erected by the Daughters of the Confederacy in 1918.

"We're pouring through lots of history right now, just to see if this is a monument to the Confederacy or if this for the soldiers," Baines said. 

He later added, "When you honor the Confederacy, you honor the ideals and the precepts and the principles of the Confederate movement. Whereas if you're simply honoring the soldiers, you're just saying these are soldiers that fought during the time period and we wanted to honor them." 

An economy based on slavery is included in those Confederate ideals, Baines said. 

While committee members work through the history of the statue, Baines acknowledged there are three possible outcomes. They can either decide to remove the statue, add more historical context around the existing site or not do anything altogether. 

There are nuances within each option, but Baines said those are the three basic pillars of the discussion. 

"By the time you distill it down, that's kind of where your options are," he said. 

The committee's other nine members are Ronni Cade, Alfredo Sanchez, Willie Hudspeth, Mike Cochran, Paul Meltzer, Tim Trylovich, Fred Rogers, Howard Watt and Mark Bowlin. They will meet again at 9 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 30, in the 1896 Room on the third floor of the Courthouse on the Square.

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