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Fiscal Court postpones vote on removing Confederate statue

July 1, 2020

Photo by Nathan Seaton

A vote on whether or not to remove the Confederate statue from the Daviess County Courthouse lawn has been postponed until Aug. 6. Fiscal Court voted 3-1 to postpone the decision during Tuesday’s meeting. 

County Commissioners George Wathen, Charlie Castlen and Mike Koger were all in favor of tabling the vote, while Judge-Executive Al Mattingly was against postponing. 

Fiscal Court heard a resolution Tuesday that, if passed, would have resulted in removing the monument from the Courthouse lawn and giving it back to the United Daughters of the Confederacy. 

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The resolution did not specify where the monument would be placed. However, the resolution agreed with a proposal by the Kentucky Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy to relocate the statue to a plot of land they privately own and use as a memorial to the Battle of Panther Creek. A letter from the Owensboro chapter of the NAACP was also in agreement with the relocation to that land.

Wathen made the motion to postpone the decision, saying he wants to give the public more time to discuss the issue.

“I think there’s a lot of people out there in the county that would like to have the opportunity to talk about this somehow in the public, and they don’t feel like they’ve been given the opportunity,” Wathen said.

Concerns were also raised about where exactly the statue would end up if it was removed, though County Attorney Claud Porter said the resolution did not specify a new location. Plus, as a resolution rather than an ordinance, Fiscal Court had the leeway to make changes or amendments to the wording.

Still, the 3-1 vote means there will be no vote until at least Aug. 6 during their next meeting.

Mattingly said postponing was the wrong decision.

“I think it’s a mistake because we gain nothing by waiting a month,” he told Commissioners. “We gain absolutely nothing. You’re going to hear from the same folks who oppose it and you’re going to hear from the same folks who support it. I think it’s time we make a decision. Certainly you’ve heard input. I’ve had input — all day today, over the past three or four weeks.”

Mattingly also noted Fiscal Court would not be the ones who set up a public debate, but Wathen said the extra time allows citizens to organize something themselves.

“We give them an opportunity to have a forum if they want to have it,” Wathen said.

July 1, 2020

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