Reidsville Confederate monument being assembled in cemetary

By McClatchy News Service
Published: Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Reidsville Confederate Monument might be gone, but workers began installing the soldier’s base in the city-owned Greenview Cemetery on Wednesday, May 15.

“This is a positive step in the right direction,” Former United Daughters of the Confederacy president and current UDC Monument Committee chair Aileen Ezell said.

Almost two years ago, the monument became the height of controversy in the city of Reidsville. On May 23 of 201, Mark Anthony Vincent, 42, of Greensboro drove his work van into the base, knocking the soldier off and shattering it to pieces.

The city took the base of the monument down after an August 23, 2011 earthquake. City Manager Michael Pearce said the earthquake made him realize the base sat precariously after the accident. He determined it a safety issue.

The base remained outside the Public Works building since the removal. Crews worked in the cemetery to reconstruct and clean the base of the monument on Wednesday.

It remains unclear when the soldier might be installed. In a February interview, Ezell said there wasn’t a timetable to install the new soldier. She did add that this soldier would have a Confederate uniform. The previous monument’s designer outfitted the soldier in Union attire.

The UDC claimed ownership of the monument shortly after it fell. The city searched for records saying otherwise and never found any.

Traveler’s Insurance Company, who represents Vincent, paid the UDC $105,000. The UDC said it planned to use the money to recreate the soldier for the monument and use the original base as the platform.

City officials helped the UDC find a new location for the monument. The city deeded a plot of land in Greenview Cemetery to the UDC years prior. The plot houses the body of Confederate soldiers.

The Confederate monument continues to be a controversial issue in the community. After the 2011 earthquake, a group, the Historical Preservation Action Committee formed to ensure the monument returned to its original location in the South Scales and West Morehead Streets intersection.

In December 2011, the UDC made an announcement it planned to move the monument to the cemetery.

HPAC filed a lawsuit against the UDC and the city to stop the monuments removal. The lawsuit included the North Carolina Department of Transportation and the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources as well.

HPAC dropped the city and the UDC from the lawsuit. Davidson County Superior Court Judge Mark Klass dismissed the case citing the organization lacked standing to bring it forward. Rockingham County Judge Moses Massey dismissed the case as well.

HPAC and the Sons of the Confederate Veterans’ lawyer, Tim Wyatt, argued the dismissal before the North Carolina Court of Appeals on April 24. The three judges, Ann Maria Calabria, Douglas McCollough and Sanford Steelman have 90 days to make a ruling on whether the two groups have legal standing.

HPAC spokesperson Diane Parnell said the organization declined comment until the court ruled on the case.

Copyright © 2013 Halifax Media Group

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