The Associated Press

HOUSTON – Residents of Chickasaw County have voted in favor of erecting a Confederate monument on a courthouse lawn but at least one group is vowing to stop the project from moving forward.

Supervisors still have the final say, and they will take up the hotly disputed matter at their Nov. 15 meeting.

"It would be premature or unfair if I told you our plans," said Jerry Hall, president of the Chickasaw County Board of Supervisors. "I can’t speak for everyone."

The nonbinding referendum passed by 55 percent, with 4,529 votes for and 3,661 votes against. The referendum came after the supervisors rescinded a decision to allow the monument.

Hall said opponents and supporters of the monument will come before the board and the issue will be addressed.

Ben Neal Jr., spokesman for the citizens group opposing the monument, said, "We just hope and pray to the Father of all mercy that the Board of Supervisors can find enough peace in their hearts to not vote to erect this monument we so strongly oppose."

If supervisors allow the monument, he said, the group will "go back to the drawing board" to determine its next step.

Hall said both sides have worked in good faith.

"The voters spoke, and they spoke in large numbers," he said. "It’s up to us now to decide."

Hall would not speculate on how supervisors will handle the issue or give his personal view.

David Horn, spokesman for the Sons of Confederate Veterans, which supports the monument, said he was tired, relieved and "on cloud nine" by the outcome of the vote.

"We took a calculated risk by going with the referendum," he said. "We felt we had a good faith contract on our side, but we didn’t want to take it to court. I’ve been praying for this day to come."

Neal said he opposes the monument because it represents slavery, and he didn’t want a reminder of slavery on the public square.

Copyright ©2004 Hattiesburg American

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