Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Reidsville Dishonors Citizens by Refusing to Restore Confederate Monument

Council considers $60,000 monument replacement                                         
Posted: Monday, May 12, 2014 2:50 pm
The Reidsville City Council plans to vote in Wednesday’s meeting on approving a budget of $60,000 to replace the Reidsville Confederate Monument.
If the council agrees, the city Manager Michael Pearce intends to move $30,000 from the General Fund Balance and accept a $30,000 grant from the Reidsville Area Foundation to pay for the new artwork.
The Reidsville Confederate Monument caused controversy on May 23, 2011, after a car accident destroyed it. The accident sent waves of racial tension and historic nostalgia as Confederate activist, decedents and history buffs worked to convince the city council to restore it.

Pearce hopes the new project brings unity back to the community.“While any public art project will have its detractors, I believe that the circle can be a unifying source of pride within our community, will act as a positive tool for marketing Reidsville and Rockingham County and will speak to future generations as to where our hearts and minds were in 2014,” Pearce said in a memo to the council.
In January, the council agreed it wanted to replace the monument with a “whimsical” piece of art highlighting something unique about the city.

Pearce’s memo said the council agreed it wanted something with height, movement and dramatic lighting during the night.

For most of the city council it wasn’t an option not to replace the monument. That’s because the Reidsville Confederate Monument stood in the intersection of W. Morehead and S. Scales streets.
The busy intersection includes a roundabout and city officials feared, and sometimes witnessed, vehicles driving straight over the traffic circle instead of going around it.

Until a replacement comes, the council keeps the city’s Christmas tree, lit annually in Dec., in the intersection, much to the distain of many residents.Since the January meeting, Pearce began working with local artist Brad and Tammy Spencer to prepare for a replacement. The couple helped guide him through a process called, “Call for Artists.”

The Spencers also suggested Pearce form an artist selection panel to help review the project, applications from artists and pick a finalist. Pearce said in his memo he plans to create the panel using people from Rockingham County Arts Council, the Reidsville Downtown Corporation, the Reidsville Public Library, local artists, downtown merchants and instructors from Rockingham Community College.

After forming the panel he plans to invite five artists to interview with it and visit the intersection.
Each artist receives a $500 stipend for any costs incurred for interviewing with the panel, including travel.

 The Reidsville Confederate Monument made national headlines over the past three years because of the controversy the accident caused, including lawsuits filed against the city, the North Carolina Daughters of the Confederacy, the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources and the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

Since the completion of the lawsuits, the NCUDC did recreate the monument and placed it in the city-owned Greenview Cemetery near the burial sites of several Confederate Soldiers.
The Reidsville City Council meeting takes place at 3 p.m., Wednesday in the council’s chambers located at 230 W. Morehead St.