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Commissioners look to add women to monument committee; emergency services to temporarily relocate

There’s one woman on the committee assigned to help determine the fate of the Confederate monument on the Square, and Denton County commissioners are trying to fix that. 

Although the group has already held two meetings, commissioners agreed Tuesday to find five more women interested in serving. 

Right now, the only woman out of 10 members is Ronni Cade, a former Lewisville City Council member and small-business owner. Cade, who has been elected as the group's vice chairwoman, was initially appointed by Commissioner Bobbie Mitchell.  

Local activists Jennifer Lane and Willie Hudspeth spoke on the lack of women in the group during Tuesday's Commissioners Court meeting. Hudspeth also serves on the committee, and he cited the significant role women played in creating the monument, which was erected by the Daughters of the Confederacy in 1918. 

Commissioner Hugh Coleman had a problem with adding more members to the committee because he felt it would make a consensus more difficult. He was the only commissioner to vote against the committee in late October. 

"I really want a unanimous decision," he said. "If we have something that comes down to a 60-40 split or something like that, that's not gonna solve any of the problems." 

The committee will eventually have to come up with a single recommendation to commissioners, who can take a final vote on the matter. 

Committee chairman John Baines said group members had already expressed an interest in appointing more women during its first meeting. 

"I feel that there's a very strong desire to do a good job, and so, with that being the catalyst, I think to add a few more would not be a problem," he said. 

It's unclear when commissioners will make their new appointments. Baines said he'll be able to bring the new members up to speed.

In other action  

Commissioners approved the temporary relocation of all Denton County Emergency Services personnel to the Denton County Elections and Technology Services Building at 701 Kimberly Drive. 

The department's current building, located at 9060 Teasley Lane, houses about 14 members of the department and five large trucks, according to emergency management coordinator Jody Gonzalez. 

The facility is in need of extensive repairs, and county workers need to further examine the property, said Dale Nelson, assistant director of facilities. 

"There's been some cracking [in the floor and walls] for a couple years now," he said. "It's just been on our radar for a while."

Nelson said the county has not designated an official date for the repairs. Gonzalez also did not have a timetable for when emergency services would have to relocate. 

Commissioners also approved a new public comment policy following months of heated discussion on Denton County's Confederate monument.

The biggest change includes a 45-minute limit on the entire public comment portion of meetings. Each speaker will have a three-minute limit.  

In addition to registering in person the day the Commissioners Court meets, speakers will now be able to sign up online once an agenda is posted. For a typical Tuesday meeting, agendas are usually posted around noon Thursdays. 

People can also register online by calling an aide to the Commissioners Court at 940-349-2830. 

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