Town Hall fo­cuses on statue

Com­mis­sion­ers, chair­man an­swer res­i­dent ques­tions

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - JACKIE GUTKNECHT jgutknecht@cov­news.com

The con­fed­er­ate mon­u­ment on the Cov­ing­ton square was the main topic of dis­cus­sion dur­ing a three-hour town hall meet­ing hosted by the New­ton County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers (BOC) Mon­day evening.

Ques­tions were raised about the mon­u­ment it­self, the lack of other his­toric mark­ers in the com­mu­nity and whether re­mov­ing or mov­ing the statue is an op­tion. While the com­mis­sion­ers did not re­veal any de­fin­i­tive an­swers about the fu­ture of the mon­u­ment, they all seemed to agree that the county is miss­ing the mark on telling its his­tory.

Guest His­to­rian Karcheik Sims-Al­varado said it is up to the com­mu­nity to tell New­ton County’s his­tory in its to­tal­ity.

“Tonight we’re go­ing to make it right,” she said, en­cour­ag­ing the com­mu­nity to be on the right side of his­tory.

New­ton County Chair­man Mar­cello Banes chal­lenged those in at­ten­dance to ask ques­tions and gave the com­mis­sion­ers the op­por­tu­nity to an­swer in an al­lot­ted time.

‘Weave our county’s his­tory into a ta­pes­try of sto­ries’

Dis­trict 1 Com­mis­sioner Stan Ed­wards spoke about his fam­ily his­tory dur­ing the civil war, call­ing his story one of the many threads that makes up the story of New­ton County. The theme of weav­ing those threads con­tin­ued through­out the night as com­mis­sion­ers and cit­i­zens shared their sto­ries and opin­ions about how his­tory is rep­re­sented lo­cally.

“As we move for­ward, how do we move with in­ten­tion­al­ity and weave our county’s his­tory into a

ta­pes­try of sto­ries that is to­tally in­clu­sive and rep­re­sen­ta­tive of our en­tire cit­i­zenry so that our fu­ture is bright and pro­duc­tive?” Rev. Avis Wil­liams said.

Dis­trict 3 Com­mis­sioner Nancy Schulz said it is up to New­ton County to look at the “thor­ough his­tory” that can be told on the square. Cur­rently, there is an in­for­ma­tional marker on one corner of the square. She brought up the idea of ad­ding one to ev­ery corner to tell the whole story.

Turn­ing di­a­logue into move­ments

“We’re on the verge of di­vid­ing this com­mu­nity in a bad way,” Banes said. “There’s some peo­ple who don’t even care about that, but I do and I’m not go­ing to let that hap­pen.

“Ev­ery meet­ing is not go­ing to be about black and white, I’m not go­ing to lis­ten to that. In four years you can vote me out and I’ll go home and then you can come up and talk about black and white all you want, but for these next four years we’re go­ing to get stuff done.

“It’s not go­ing to be at ev­ery meet­ing we come up talk about black folk, white folk; I’m tired of that. I’m go­ing to tell you what we’re about to do: We’re about to have cit­i­zen’s com­ments at all the meet­ings about agenda items only if this don’t stop.”

Banes said there are sev­eral other things the com­mis­sion­ers are work­ing on right now out­side of the statue.

“New­ton County has got to move for­ward,” he said. “We’re not fix­ing to go back­wards, not in these four years; we’re not.

“No­body’s con­cerned about the debt we’ve got to deal with, no­body’s con- cerned about get­ting the county turned around, but we can fill the room when it’s a black and white issue and we’re go­ing to stop that.”

Banes said if three com­mis­sion­ers ask him to add the mon­u­ment to the agenda, he will add it. Dis­trict 4 Com­mis­sioner J.C. Hen­der­son vol­un­teered to be one of those com­mis­sion­ers and en­cour­aged other com­mis­sion­ers to do the same.

“It’s our job,” he said. “They (the res­i­dents of New­ton County) elect us to make tough de­ci­sions. They elect us to lis­ten to our con­stituents and to the best of our abil­ity make a de­ci­sion. I’m at that point.

“Just do what you’re elected to do. Make tough de­ci­sions.”

Banes said he was pleased with how the town hall meet­ing turned out.

“I feel like the town hall was a great suc­cess,” he said. “Hope­fully we can start do­ing more town halls in the fu­ture. Maybe we can one a quar­ter.”

Ev­ery meet­ing is not go­ing to be about black and white, I’m not go­ing to lis­ten to that. In four years you can vote me out and I’ll go home and then you can come up and talk about black and white all you want, but for these next four years we’re go­ing to get stuff done.” — Mar­cell Banes, New­ton County Chair­man

Pho­tos by Jackie Gutknecht | The Cov­ing­ton News

Top left: Al­most 200 peo­ple show up for the New­ton County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers Town Hall Meet­ing Mon­day night at Tuner Lake Park. Above: New­ton County Chair­man Mar­cello Banes an­swers ques­tions. Left: Com­mis­sioner Stan Ed­wards tells the story of his great, great, great grand­fa­ther and how that has built this story.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.