Chatham County Board of Commissioners Meeting June 20, 2019

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BoC & UDC sign MoU 

Let’s start with the most noteworthy moment of the meeting: the board’s unanimous passage of a memorandum of understanding with the Winnie Davis chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the group responsible for erecting the statue. 

Commissioner Mike Dasher started the topic discussion by recalling a meeting he had with a representative of the Winnie Davis chapter. During that meeting, they discussed whether the monument be modified and rededicated as a broader monument to all veterans, not just those who fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War. 

Commissioner Howard calls the MoU the “framework for opening up a conversation.” She says it will not compromise the integrity of the views of the board. Commissioner Hales calls it an “appropriate step,” and Commissioner Dasher adds that the MoU will not result in “legal determinations” but is rather an attempt to find common ground. 

The most decisive comment on the issue comes from Commissioner Crawford, who offered his support for the MoU while “personally” wishing the statue would be moved away from its current location near a “seat of government.”

As they have done for weeks, residents spoke up about their differing views on the statue. Residents like Howard Fifer, who spoke on behalf of an anti-statue group called “Chatham for All,” asked that the statue be viewed in context of what they believe to be a racist history. Throughout the debate, other residents have expressed a familial connection to the monument and a desire to preserve historical memory. 

Other News

At the beginning of the meeting, the Board received an update from Chatham County Schools representative Robert Schooley, a facilitator of student health instruction. He highlighted the power of school partnerships with community organizations, and emphasized a CCS initiative to streamline reproductive health and safety education standards countywide. 

The BoC voted to approve a resolution supporting June 22nd’s Juneteenth, or “Freedom Day” celebration at the Chatham County Agriculture and Conference Center. Diana Hales called it a “terrific celebration of culture” and Karen Howard emphasizes the celebration’s value as both an “observance and recognition.”  

Near the end of the meeting during Commissioners’ Reports, Commissioner Hale referenced a water quality study conducted jointly between UNC-Chapel Hill and Virginia Tech. She brought up hearing of metals in private water in Chatham County, and suggested that the researchers present their findings to the board at a future meeting.

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