After debate regarding a Confederate flag, the Marshall County Fiscal Court voted last Tuesday to draft policy changes for making future changes to county grounds.
A timeline and specifics remain tentative, commissioner Monti Collins said, though a general aim is more frank and open discussion in future court meetings.
“We did not end up putting a definite date on (the new policy being voted on) because of the time sensitivity of our current budget and administration that (Deputy Judge-Executive Brad Warning) is working on as well,” Collins said.
He added, “It was made clear that nothing would happen on any of our county properties until that policy is in place and passed by the fiscal court with a majority vote.”
Judge-Executive Kevin Neal requested that Warning have a working draft composed by the next regularly-scheduled meeting, May 5, though acknowledged the task could take more time.
Controversy began when commissioner Justin Lamb had a Confederate flag installed on the Marshall courthouse lawn in late March for April, which is Confederate history month. Neal verbally authorized the request without holding a fiscal court vote.
Despite plans to fly a Union flag adjacently as a permanent Civil War monument, the unexpected sight of the flag invoked criticism.
Neal later had the flag removed, suggesting by written statement that two flags — Confederate and Union — be installed at the Jerry G. English Veteran’s Memorial Plaza in Mike Miller County Park at Draffenville.
During last Tuesday’s meeting, Neal voiced a desire for policy changes while legally justifying his prior authorization.
“I know folks in the community have voiced their concerns. I think it is important people understand the policies or lack thereof: The statute states the fiscal court puts the policies in place and the judge-executive carries out those policies,” Neal said.
Neal said he wanted the policy to broadly address “other policies I’d like put in place, so that not only my office but my staff have clear and direct understanding of things carried out.”
Before the flag’s removal, Collins criticized the fiscal court’s closed-door tendencies. He called for the flag along with general future changes to be discussed more openly during sessions.
“All due respect, we (the commissioners) have taken a lot of calls and emails and texts,” Collins said during the meeting. “I just do not want to see this go another month-and-a-half.”
He suggested a “working group” to accelerate progress.
Neal replied: “This policy will cover all county grounds and isn’t a policy for just one issue. This isn’t something that can be put together (quickly) and is a lot of information.”