Council again votes to prevent monument workPublished 11:11pm Friday, January 11, 2013
While discussions about the Nathan Bedford Forrest monument have been relatively quiet in the council chambers since a September vote paused construction, Tuesday’s council meeting saw another vote on the monument.
Ward 3 councilman Greg Bjelke said it was time, as the council representative for the cemetery, to speak about the monument and the halted construction.
“I feel that because the cemetery is in my ward it is time for me to take a stand on this issue,” Bjelke said to the council. “I want to allow the construction company to continue work in the cemetery. If you will remember the work was not on the Nathan Bedford Forrest monument, it was on the handicap accessible ramp to the Confederate monument.”
Bjelke said he felt that a lift of the building permit on the handicap ramp would help the city avoid some of the current lawsuits by the construction company KTK Mining of Virginia.
KTK filed two claims against the city of Selma and an additional filing in federal court, citing lost earnings and infringements on their rights in October after the council voted to suspend their permit.
“This action may allow the city to avoid the upcoming lawsuit,” Bjelke said. “I strongly urge you, and I feel, that allowing this company to continue to work will promote tourism, new industry, new possibilities for a peaceful, prosperous town.”
Bjelke explained that though the court case had been filed, he felt that construction on the handicap accessibility ramp on the confederate monument had nothing to do with the ruling on whether or not the city of Selma owns Confederate Circle in the Old Live Oak Cemetery.
Ward 1 councilman Cecil Williamson agreed saying, “We encourage everyone to go out there and see that the work that was stopped, was the work on the confederate monument and it has been there for 135 years, and they were trying to make it handicap accessible. So even if the court rules that the city owns the property, we have got to finish those two large holes out there.”
The vote by the council was a 5-4 vote to not lift the ban on the permit.
Council members Corey Bowie, Angela Benjamin, Samuel Randolph, Bennie Ruth Crenshaw and Michael Johnson voted no, while council members Cecil Williamson, Greg Bjelke, Susan Keith and Rev. B.L. Tucker voted yes to lift the ban on the permit and continue construction.