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Commissioners add five women to monument committee as members eye late January recommendation

The Confederate monument committee, which recently added five women, is looking to make a recommendation by the end of January.  

The now 15-member committee will ultimately ask Denton County commissioners to either remove the Confederate monument on the Square or add more historical context around the structure. It's no longer an option to do nothing, committee chairman John Baines said. 

Commissioners on Tuesday added five additional women to serve on the advisory committee. Former Lewisville City Council member Ronni Cade had been the only woman in the group. Now, Aubrey resident Charlotte Mooneyham, Flower Mound attorney Donna Hernandez and Denton residents Kay Copeland, Zenobia Hutton and Judy Flowers will have a voice.

Commissioner Ron Marchant said Flowers has ties to the Denton chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy, which erected the statue in 1918.  The committee had wanted to get a representative from the group in the discussion. 

The committee's deliberation is centered around the belief that the monument — and other Confederate symbols around the country — represents and celebrates racism. Those on the other side of the debate believe removing such structures is an attempt to erase history.

In the coming weeks, the committee will hear from experts regarding the historical context of the statue.  Baines said the group has already been given a considerable amount of reading material to study.  They are doing research to "determine if [the statue] was a commemoration to the Confederacy or a commemoration to the Confederate soldiers," Baines said. 

Baines, an African-American who owns a local tax and consulting service, shared some of his experiences with racism during the commissioners meeting. 

He recalled a time in 1967 when he rode a moped through a white neighborhood in a town near Houston. Baines, who was 14 at the time, said he had to take that route to get to work. 

"Every time I would drive through that city, I would get stopped and get a ticket," he said. 

Baines said he shared the stories "to give [commissioners] a taste of some of the feelings that are going on in the meetings." 

He said the group plans to allow members of the public to speak on the matter in future meetings. They also plan to put together a survey to gather more public opinion.

The committee will next meet at 9 a.m. Thursday at the Courthouse on the Square in the 1896 Room. The public is allowed to observe the meetings without comment. 

In other action, county commissioners approved a permit application for sidewalk repairs around the Courthouse on the Square. They also approved a donation of surplus coats from the Denton County Sheriff's Office to the Monsignor King Outreach Center. 

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