Half of the Confederate monument on the Daviess County Courthouse lawn has been removed. The 7-foot-tall bronze sculpture of a Confederate soldier was taken down at approximately 7:30 this morning, while the large granite pedestal still remains.
Judge-Executive Al Mattingly declined to provide much comment, but simply said the Fiscal Court members voted 22 months ago that they would move it so they were now carrying out that decision.
The Kentucky Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy claimed they owned the monument, but Daviess County Judge Lisa Payne Jones recently issued a 16-page ruling that the monument is owned by Fiscal Court and was theirs “to dispose of as they choose.”
“It was found in our favor that we owned it to do what we want with it,” Mattingly said.
The UDC filed a notice of appeal last week, though Daviess County Attorney Claud Porter said nothing in the appeal kept the County from moving the statue now that it has been deemed property of the Fiscal Court.
“The reason they took it down today was initially we said the period for appeal ended on May 29 or May 30, and so [Mattingly] had scheduled it for that. When [the UDC] filed their (notice of) appeal … they did not file any bond or anything that would permit them to contest removal during the time of the appeal. They did not file a supersedeas bond. So [Mattingly] asked me if they could remove it, and I said yes,” Porter said.
The statute has been taken to the Daviess County Operations Center for now but a long-term plan has not been finalized. A concrete pad will be poured so that the statue can be mounted, allowing it to be moved to another location at some point. That would also allow the statue and pedestal to remain separate pieces permanently, if that is the final decision.
Mattingly wasn’t able to discuss any future plans for the statue.
Porter said the statue will remain at the Operations Center until they “have, find, or nominate an appropriate replacement,” but wasn’t sure what the time frame for that might be.
“I don’t know. I don’t even know if [the Fiscal Court members] know,” Porter said. “All I know is they had said they would want to remove it. They had filed a resolution agreeing to remove it, had an agreement with the folks who sued us — the United Daughters of the Confederacy — which they backed out of and then sued us. So then we were prohibited for some period of time from moving it. So once the Court was able to act on its resolution, they did.”
Porter said he thinks the County paid for the removal of the statue “because it was just the statue itself, it was fairly small.” He said the base “is a whole different story” because it’s a much larger piece of material and “will require a lot more.”
It’s unclear what will happen to the pedestal. Asked if the base will be moved at some point, Mattingly deferred to Porter, who said “something will happen to the rest of it.”
“I think it will be moved,” Porter said. “It may be changed, it might be altered in some way so that it doesn’t reflect what it is (currently), I don’t know. The sense of the court was, and the resolution was, to move it. I think that that will be up to [Fiscal Court] and how they wish to carry out their resolution.”
If the UDC goes through with filing an appeal and is deemed to be the owner, both Mattingly and Porter said the UDC would be able to retrieve the statue and base from wherever they are at the time of the ruling.
There is a short window for the UDC to actually file the brief, and the County would then have some time to file a response. Porter said it’s then normal for the Court of Appeals to have their attorney call the parties to set up a pre-hearing conference to see if there’s any kind of resolution that might be made or if the case will go to court.