WINONA – A motion to investigate the cost and measures required to relocate the Confederate memorial located on the east side of the Winona-Montgomery Public Library failed with a vote of 2 to 3 by Winona Board of Alderman at a special-called meeting last Thursday due to questions of whom is legally responsible for the monument.
A majority of the board asked city attorney Adam Kirk to investigate whether the monument is the property of the City of Winona or Montgomery County prior to taking action in researching the cost and regulations involved in relocating it.
Alderwoman Sarah Minnieweather made a motion to state the board’s intent to find out the cost to have the monument moved and find a designated spot to move it. Alderman Kelvin Winbush seconded the motion. The measure was defeated 2-3, with Ware, Alderman Mickey Austin, and Alderman Travis Johnson casting dissenting votes.
According to Winona Mayor Jerry Flowers, he has received two calls from citizens asking for the city to move the statute from its current location on Quitman Street on the property of the Winona-Montgomery Public Library to a different location like Oakwood Cemetery.
The City of Winona joined several other governmental entities in starting discussions to move Confederate monuments. Last week, the Grenada City Council voted to relocate the Confederate Monument from the city’s courthouse square, and the response from the community was polarizing after the city covered the monument with a tarp until it could be moved. According to The Grenada Star, a man was arrested for removing the tarp from the statue.
Flowers urged the board to take action to determine a cost to relocate the statue as well as look into which government entity has legal ownership of the monument. The Mississippi Department of Archives and History will also have to approve of the monument being moved and where it will be relocated.
The monument was erected in 1909 by the Daughters of Confederate Veterans in memory of the Confederate soldiers who died during the Civil War.
According to a story published in the March 25, 1976, article of The Winona Times, the Winona Board of Aldermen voted to select the site of the former Montgomery County Courthouse to build the new Winona-Montgomery Public Library. Montgomery County offered the property for the site of the new library, which would be jointly owned by the city and the county, after the courthouse was demolished. The current Montgomery County Courthouse was built on the west side of Highway 51, leaving the site between Sterling Avenue and Quitman Street vacant. The Confederate statue remained at the site, although it was moved to a more suitable location on the property for the construction of the library, the article stated.
Alderman David Ware argued that unless both the Winona Board of Aldermen and the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors agreed on relocating the statue and if the city is not the legal owner of the monument, the discussion was moot.
“You talk to the county board and find out what they want to do before we put in the work that goes into this,” Ware told Kirk.
Flowers said he planned to speak with Board of Supervisor President Ron Wood to learn the supervisors’ thoughts on relocating the statue, and Kirk would research the deed of the property.